Friday, 19 February 1988
SCIENCE DID WELL IN THE PRESIDENT'S FY89 BUDGET REQUEST
released yesterday -- but don't start spending it yet. There
hasn't been enough time to figure out where the money is coming
from, but OMB estimates a 6% increase in basic research. Some
randomly selected highlights: THE SSC is in for $363M, mostly for magnet
development. THE ORBITING X-RAY OBSERVATORY is set to begin at $27M.
NSF'S RESEARCH BUDGET would increase by about 20% to $1.8B.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTERS at NSF would get $150M of that. PHYSICS
AND MATERIALS RESEARCH at NSF would increase 7.2%. AIDS RESEARCH matches
the entire NSF budget at $2B. THE 6GEV LIGHT SOURCE at Argonne is in
the budget at last. BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES research at DOE would
increase 6%.Now for a little reality therapy. Some of the money for the
large increases in science and space comes from wildly optimistic
economic forecasts. In an election year, Congress will accept
OMB's deficit estimate as if they believed it, but they are
unlikely to accept heavy cuts in housing to pay for basic
science. (The Chairman of the House Budget Committee commented
on "the willingness to build more housing in space than here on
earth.") There are many other unrealities in the budget. For
example, DOE saved more than $100M by eliminating university pork
barrel projects voted by Congress (WN 8 Jan 88).
The sentiment is
fine, but Congress will simply put them back -- as it has before.
. THE QUALITY OF SCIENCE ADVICE TO THE PRESIDENT
came in for a
lot of attention this week. It began with a full day session at
the AAAS meeting in Boston on the weekend. Proposed cures for
the ailing White House Science Office ranged from creation of a
Secretary of Science and Technology, with no department, to a
return to the President's Science Advisory Council. The exception
was William Graham, who said things are just about perfect now.
Lew Branscomb, now a Harvard professor, favored amending the
Federal Advisory Act to permit greater privacy for groups
advising the President, while his Harvard colleague, Ashton
Carter, argued for greater reliance on advisory institutions that
openly publish their analyses for all interested consumers. On
Wednesday, oversight hearings on presidential science advice were
conducted by the House Subcommittee on Science Research and
Technology (WN 29 Jan 88).
The consensus was that no advisory
structure will help if the President doesn't want advice.
3. JOHN NUCKOLLS HAS BEEN NAMED TO HEAD LAWRENCE LIVERMORE
replacing Roger Batzel who is retiring.
Batzel had been embroiled in controversy over the demotion of Roy
Woodruff after Woodruff blew the whistle on exaggerated claims
for x-ray laser tests (WN 25 Dec 87). Nuckolls is reported to be
a strong advocate of the Strategic Defense Initiative.