WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 29 January 1988 Washington, DC
NO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTERS WILL BE FUNDED THIS YEAR
The 800-900 proposals will simply be ranked with the
intention of funding a few next year. The effort in preparing
and reviewing proposals represents a staggering diversion of the
nation's scientific talent. By most estimates, expenditures on
proposals for S&T centers exceed any probable funding. A program
in which fewer than one percent of the proposals are funded is of
dubious value except to measure the desperation of researchers.
.IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER.
community is being set up again this year. By all accounts, the
President's asking budget for FY 89 will treat science very
generously, with major increases for the NSF, NASA and the SSC.
It will never come to pass. Under the terms of the budget summit,
non-defense discretionary spending must be held to a 2% increase.
That is a total of only about $3B. Increases in one area can be
offset by decreases elsewhere -- but anyone who thinks Congress
can give a 20% increase to NSF by cutting veterans' health
benefits needs professional care. To compound the problem, NSF
undertook new commitments last year in anticipation of a big
increase in FY 88. The increase didn't materialize and now
everyone's NSF grant is being cut 12.5%. Without new revenues,
science will have to fight hard just to get another 3% increase
in FY 89 -- and there are no new revenues in election years.
3. REAGAN'S NEW "NATIONAL SPACE POLICY" IS STILL UNDER WRAPS,
although he reportedly signed off on it two weeks ago. It was
generally thought that it was being held up until after the
State-of-the-Union Address but, as you may have noticed, neither
space nor science got even a mention. However, in an expanded
message to Congress, supplied by the White House, the President
offers his solution to the space problem -- "privatization."
4.THE INCREDIBLE EXPANDING UNIVERSITY PORK BARREL.
Chronicle of Higher Education identifies $225M in earmarks for
universities in the FY 88 appropriation, mostly in science. The
growth of university pork over the past 8 years is described
pretty well by an exponential function with a doubling period of
2 years. At that rate, it will make up the entire science budget
in about the year 2000, and funding agencies can be dismantled.
5.A CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY INTO THE WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE OFFICE
is tentatively set to begin 17 Feb 88. The unprecedented
oversight hearing will be conducted by the House Subcommittee on
Science, Research and Technology chaired by Doug Walgren (D-PA).
According to Science & Government Report, the first witness will
be William Graham, the current Science Advisor, followed by a
string of previous advisors. Former congressman Don Fuqua
recalls that Reagan did not want to appoint a science advisor
when he became President. He seems to have gotten his way.