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The Administration's FY2008 Research and Development Budget Proposal

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - 12:00am
Washington, D.C.

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

We are here today to discuss the Administration’s proposals for research and development funding, which really means we are here to discuss our nation’s future competitiveness.

You have heard me say this before, but it continues to ring true - As the father of a five-year-old daughter, I am deeply concerned that our children will be the first generation of Americans not to inherit a better quality of life than their parents.  We need to get serious about ensuring that our country’s economic strength continues to be the envy of the world.

The fact of the matter is, the absolute dollars we spend on research and development have been declining as a percentage of our economy. 

And, while our investments have been declining, other countries’ R&D investments have been increasing.  A few years ago, overtook the in total R&D investment as a percentage of GDP.  And – which is raising its R&D by 10 percent a year – is on the path to closing the gap as well.

That’s why I had hoped to see a budget from the President this year that recognized these realities and shored up our country’s competitive position. But in 2008, under this budget, R&D as a share our GDP would decline again - to below 1 percent.

While the budget includes some important funding increases, it lacks the priorities and consistency to ensure our competitiveness now and in the long run. Proposed increases at some agencies are offset by decreases at other agencies. Physical sciences are boosted within the American Competitiveness Initiative, but more than offset by decreases to NASA science programs, among other cuts.

It’s good to see that the President’s budget would increase overall funding for the National Science Foundation.

But, once again, funding for education programs at NSF would decline.  Over the last 4 years, NSF K-12 funding has dropped almost 50 percent, more than $130 million.  And the 2008 budget request maintains these cuts.

For more than 50 years, the National Science Foundation has been successfully implementing K-12 education programs.  In fact, an Administration official at OMB recently agreed that NSF has a  -- quote  – “strong track record for rigorous evaluation” that could be a model for other agencies trying to improve science and math instruction.  

And, in testimony and other reports presented to this Committee over the years – including the National Academies Gathering Storm report – the number one recommendation for improving math and science education has been improving teacher training.

Still, the Administration continues to ignore these facts and instead has focused 70 percent of the education component of its competitiveness initiative on the very narrow area of K-8 math curriculum at the Department of Education – an agency that already has been overburdened and underfunded. 

I would like to make clear that the American Competitiveness Initiative does not even include a specific science education component.

This is a case of misplaced priorities, and I am hopeful that the Administration will reconsider scaling out the considerable experience and success of K-12 programs at NSF.

In addition, while important physical sciences funding at NIST would increase, the President continues to refuse to see the value in two programs that have a proven track record of aiding small businesses and creating new jobs – the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Advanced Technology Program.

The President’s budget would cut M-E-P funding by more than half.  Let me tell you what that means in the real world –

It means more than 8,000 small manufacturing businesses will lose over $650 million in cost savings and $3 billion in sales.

It means we won’t create 25,000 jobs.

And, given M-E-P’s 10 to 1 return on investment, it means a loss of over $1 billion to the economy.

And all of this after losing 100,000 manufacturing jobs last year alone, and 2.6 million since the President took office.

The President also once again has proposed eliminating funding for the Advanced Technology Program – 66 percent of which goes to small businesses and which provides a return to the Federal government of 8 to 1.

This is hardly the way to maintain our economic competitiveness in the 21st Century.

Finally, our country’s continued economic growth will depend on having access to a clean, secure, reliable and affordable energy supply.

I’m glad to see that the budget would continue to boost research funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, even above the increases the office will receive in 2007.

Basic research can lay the foundation for reducing our country’s energy dependence and addressing the impacts of global climate change, but today too much energy R&D never gets beyond the lab. 

Unfortunately, in the Administration’s budget, several energy programs that help develop and demonstrate new technologies are slated for elimination.  Others with proven track records would face significant cuts.

Let me give you an example –

The Industrial Technologies program at DOE sets up partnerships between the government and industry to share the costs of R&D and technical assistance.  The program helps businesses reduce energy use and increase productivity. 

According to the Department of Energy’s own analysis, this program has helped 170 new technologies enter the commercial marketplace, and saved $23 billion in energy costs.

These results should not go unnoticed – but they have by this Administration, which has proposed cutting the Industrial Technologies program by 20 percent.

In short, we need to get our priorities in order. 

Ten years from now, I want to look at my daughter and know that I did my part to help find a solution to these issues.  Dr. Marburger, I look forward to hearing your testimony, and discussing these issues further with you in my questions.



1 - Dr. John H. Marburger
Director Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President
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