Committee Staff Analysis of the FY03 R&D Budget: "Mostly Business-as-Usual but Watch Those Metrics!"
The House Science Committee Democratic staff today released its analysis of the President's FY2003 budget request for R&D programs. Defense R&D increases 8%, the National Institutes of Health increases 17%, and all other civilian R&D is collectively frozen. Beneath the incrementally changing allocations for civilian R&D, however, lurk many imminent programmatic changes - changes that will apparently be justified with as-yet sketchy and opaque management criteria. The analysis points out several inconsistencies in the way these criteria were applied to the FY03 budget submission.
A number of trends noted in last year's budget submission are still operating. These include: reversal of the trend toward parity in defense and non-defense R&D; growing imbalance between biomedical R&D and R&D in the physical sciences; freezing of the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget; and targeting of cooperative government-industry programs.
The ambiguities in NASA's future policy path led Ranking Member Ralph Hall to comment, "The budget prepared by OMB for NASA raises more questions than it answers. It cuts funding for important Shuttle safety upgrades while unsettling the existing Shuttle workforce with vague Shuttle privatization proposals. And sadly, it continues down the ill-considered path of slashing the Space Station research budget by $1 billion and freezing the Station program at a level that will cripple its ability to support research and will fail to meet our commitments to our International Partners. I want NASA to succeed, and I look forward to working with my friends in the Administration and Congress to structure a realistic budget for NASA."
And Congressman Bart Gordon, Ranking Member on the Space Subcommittee, added, "I would give the Administration a grade of 'incomplete' on its NASA budget request. The request leaves too many significant questions unanswered. It proposes to improve Shuttle safety while cutting the budget for safety and supportability upgrades by $500 million over the next five years. It proposes to 'revolutionize aviation' while cutting the budget for aviation R&D. And it talks about 'outsourcing' the Shuttle program and implementing Strategic Resource Review initiatives without providing any significant details about what the Administration has in mind. Congress will need more specifics as we consider the Administration's FY 03 budget request."
On the elimination of the Manufacturing Extension Program, Congressman Jim Barcia, Ranking Democrat on the Technology Subcommittee, said, "In 2000, the $90 million Federal investment provided to Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) Centers produced $705 million in increased sales, $483 million in cost savings and $908 million in capital investment. MEP assistance helped small manufacturers become more competitive and created a ripple effect felt throughout the economy. As we stand on the verge either of an economic recovery or a deeper recession, this hardly seems like the time to kill MEP. I am confident Congress will find a more sensible policy than the one proposed by the Administration."
On the freeze in NSF's core research program, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member on the Research Subcommittee, commented that, "I am disturbed that the NSF received an increase for its core research programs of less than 2%. I don't know how you can point to NSF as a model for management and laud research as the driver for economic growth, as this budget rightly does, while starving the premier civilian science agency with a budget that doesn't even track inflation. The prosperity of this country depends on the cutting edge research performed by the NSF, and I believe that this meager increase is a very bad move for the future. I will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to insure NSF receives fairer treatment as we move towards a FY2003 appropriation." Ms. Johnson also was struck by the weak investments in minority education programs: "The President's budget calls for a more than 7% reduction in programs to increase participation by under-represented groups, and this reduction leaves hundreds of thousands of children behind, the majority of which are in public schools. The success of the world's most advanced economy depends on a strong and scientifically literate workforce composed of all races and both genders."
Finally, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Ranking Member on the Energy Subcommittee, noted that, "I am pleased to see that renewables programs received a 6% increase over FY02, especially since the Bush Administration proposed to virtually eliminate renewables programs a year ago. Last year, as the Ranking Democrat on the Science Committee I fought for renewables to be included in the energy bill. I believe the Science Committee's strong vote of confidence in renewables influenced the Bush Administration. We will have a similar impact on the National Science Foundation, science education programs, technology investments and space policy so these programs will receive the support they need. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve on the President's budget where needed."