Characterizing the FY 2005 science and technology budget request that was sent to Congress on Monday is a classic example of a glass being viewed as half-full or half-empty. Although some components of the S&T budget request are up, others are down, or at least disappointing. Contrast the remarks made by OSTP Director John Marburger: "I think we have a good story here," with those of House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) who said, "I am very disappointed in the proposed science budget . . . we just have to find a way to do better."
There are many different perspectives by which to view the S&T budget request. Faced with mounting deficits, the Bush Administration restrained future growth in discretionary program spending. These are the programs for which funding can vary each year, such as for S&T, as compared to, for example, mandated expenditures for Social Security. Not counting discretionary spending for defense and homeland security programs, discretionary programs account for less than one-fifth of the total federal budget. The Administration proposes to limit to just 0.5% the overall increase for this portion of the budget.
From this 0.5% perspective, the proposed 2.5% increase in FY 2005 spending for non-defense/homeland security R&D seems more favorable. (Adding in defense and homeland security R&D boosts the requested increase to 5%.) Non defense R&D is 5.7% of total discretionary spending in the proposed budget, which the Administration calculates is the third highest level in the last 25 years. At a briefing on Monday, Marburger urged that increases in all categories of R&D be viewed over the course of the Bush Administration, saying that it would rise 44% from FY 2001 through the FY 2005 request. "This has been an Administration highly favorable to R&D," he said.
Initial reaction on Capitol Hill was noticeably cooler. Boehlert said, "I am very disappointed in the proposed science budget, and I will be working with the Administration and my Congressional colleagues to improve the numbers as we move through the budget process. I understand that we are in a very tight fiscal situation and that the Administration has tried to treat research and development (R&D) as favorably as possible. But we just have to find a way to do better. The [Administration's FY 2005] budget chapter on R&D includes the quotation that 'Science is a horse. Don't worship it. Feed it.' The budget does not reflect that advice. After a few years of spending at the levels proposed in this budget, science would be an emaciated, old, grey mare, unable to produce any new ideas or young scientists." Ranking Minority Member Bart Gordon (D- TN) commented, "The Administration's budget fails to make the responsible investments in our future that our children expect of us. If we hope to grow new industries, provide new skills to unemployed workers, and foster the economic conditions that will allow us to eliminate our Federal deficit, we have to invest in research and development programs."
Future issues of FYI will review the FY 2005 budget request for physics-related programs. The following numbers are taken from the Administration's budget document that was delivered to Congress, and represent the proposed percentage change in funding from FY 2004 to FY 2005 in a table entitled, "Federal Science and Technology Budget." These numbers do not necessarily include changes in program content:
NIST Intramural Research and Facilities: Up 20%
National Science Foundation: Up 3%
National Institutes of Health: Up 3%
NASA Space Science: Up 2%
NASA: Up 1%
Department of Energy Science Programs: Down 1%
U.S. Geological Survey: Down 2%
Defense Basic Research: Down 4%
NASA Earth Science: Down 8%
NOAA: Down 11%
Defense Science and Technology: Down 11%
Defense Applied Research: Down 13%
NIST Advanced Technology Program: Down 100%