Friday, 9 January 1987 Washington, DC

but there is not much detail in the budget released by OMB, and it may look different next month. A few details came out in agency briefings on Monday, but inaccuracies and contradictions abound. The OSTP briefing given by William Graham in particular seems to have been part of a "disinformation" policy. The word heard most frequently at the briefings was "competitiveness," and some of this translated into increased support for basic research at universities. Hopefully, Congress will see it the same way. Highlights from the President's request:

NSF funding would increase 16.7% to $1.893B (Graham thought it was 18%). Moreover, the Administration committed itself to a doubling of the NSF budget by 1992 to $3.2B. That's slower than Bloch wanted (WN 29 Aug 86), but it's not bad. The budget includes funds to establish 5 to 10 new "interdisciplinary basic science and technology centers." Indeed, "centers" of one sort or another consume $529M of the request. Engineering will continue to increase much more rapidly than the science directorates. The largest percent increase in the NSF request is in science education, which is up 50%. For the past three years Congress has forced education increases on a reluctant Bloch.

NASA funding for physics and astronomy is up 2.7% to $567M. (Graham announced a breathtaking 20% increase in "basic research" funding for NASA, but alas, his pocket calculator seems to have been in error.) The only new start, a "Global Geospace Program" is planned at $25M for the first year. It includes solar and space physics experiments aboard two US spacecraft as part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics Program.

The Department of Energy's General Science Program would increase 13% (the Graham figure was 15%). Congress is asked to rescind $68.7M in university pork-barrel funds it inserted last year. It won't. $20M is sought to keep the SSC perking, but no funds are as yet designated for such things as site selection. Secretary Herrington endorsed the SSC before the Domestic Council, but the President has not made a decision.

The Department of Defense requested an additional $92.5M for the University Research Initiative in FY 88 (Graham thought it was $100M). Basic research (6.1 funding) is up a modest 3% to $918M. Unchastened by rejection of his FY 87 SDI request, Secretary Weinberger has asked Congress to conjure up another $500M for this year, on top of a whopping 62% increase for FY 88.

Even the National Bureau of Standards, which the Reagan administration has enjoyed kicking around for years, came in for a 12% increase. Surprisingly, the request includes a combined fire and building research institute. The administration has sought to eliminate both programs in past years, but Congress always restored them at the expense of basic research.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.