Key Science Committee Staffer's Diagnosis of DOE Office of Science Funding

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Publication date: 
6 June 2003

During this week's briefing by House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), a senior committee staffer was asked the following question when the chairman went to a vote:

"Any idea why the DOE Science Office has trouble getting the increases that you talk about, given the broad support for science?"

The staffer responded:

"Well, part of the problem has obviously always been controversy around DOE in general.

"Part of it has been them not being as widely known as a major funder of science as they are.

"There's sort of a range of reasons.

"I think that they have made progress within the Administration in getting a higher profile, and I think that hopefully will start showing up in budget requests in the future.

"Dr. Orbach is doing a spectacular job in running that office and I think is winning allies everywhere which will help.

"But for reasons that are sometimes hard to determine - but again then a lot of them having to do with DOE being DOE, and also some with the nature of the science they do, and the kinds of outreach they've done over the years - they've never quite gotten the same kind of positive profile that say NSF has.

"It's not that they have a lot of enemies after them. It's just that they haven't really found the same kind of level of advocate that the other agencies [have].

"Really, you know, a lot of the budget is often determined by having a few key players who are your vocal advocates, rather than winning over 435 Members. You just need to make sure that you don't have any opponents among the other 400. . . if you've got an advocate."

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