Friday, 2 February 1990 Washington, DC
1. THE PRESIDENT'S FY 91 BUDGET WOULD INCREASE BASIC RESEARCH 8%
o NSF Director Erich Bloch still talks about doubling the budget, but not in five years. Ignoring inflation and taking 1987 as the base, NSF now projects doubling in 1993. The request for FY 91 is $2.38B, up 14%, the same as last year, but Congress cut that in half and may again. The budget would double spending for global change studies. Education rises 30% (education for undergraduate engineers is called "engineering infrastructure development"). A dozen new Science and Technology Centers are included in FY 91; they were scrapped in FY 90. The smallest increase is 5% for the Physics Division. Last week Rep. Wayne Owens (D-UT) told the House, "The National Science Foundation is now eager to support further research [into cold fusion]," but when Irwin Goodwin of Physics Today asked Erich Bloch how much, he replied "nothing."
o DOE has lumped basic research into something called "Fortifying Foundations." Secretary Watkins apparently accepted the $1.3B overrun on the SSC (WN 12 Jan 90), but Allan Bromley warned that, if the price of "the activity in Texas" keeps rising, Congress may find it impossible to continue. The $318M requested for the SSC in FY 91 is behind schedule--even at the old price. But SSC planners, making a virtue of necessity, say redesign will slow FY 91 spending anyway. Elsewhere in DOE, the request for High Energy Physics is up 7%, while Nuclear Physics and Basic Energy Sciences are both up 14%. Magnetic Fusion is up less than 2%; the Compact Ignition Tokamak has been put on hold indefinitely at just $17M.
o NASA is the big winner. The $2.45B increase requested for the manned space station alone is larger than the entire NSF budget. In a packed House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on Tuesday, however, our international partners complained that NASA's "rephasing" of the space station was really a "descoping" (yes, the hearings were in English). Another $1.3B would be used to prepare for a manned mission to the Moon and Mars, and $1B for the Earth Observing System. Space science was barely mentioned.
2. THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Bob Park can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND