Friday, 31 January 1992 Washington, DC
1. BUSH BUDGET BACKS RESEARCH, BUT BIG BATTLE LOOMS IN
The FY 93 budget proposed by the President
emphasizes applied R&D programs, including interagency
initiatives in Biotechnology, High Performance Computing and
Advanced Materials and Processing. But basic research would also
thrive; according to Administration figures, basic research would
go up by 8% to $14.3B. Even in the defense budget, basic
research would go up 3%, despite major cuts in military spending.
In a briefing on the budget, Allan Bromley, the President's
Science Advisor, said the budget adheres to the zero-sum rule of
the Budget Enforcement Act. Increases in science and technology
means cuts had to be made in other discretionary domestic
programs, testimony, Bromley said, to the commitment of the Bush
Administration to science. That may be true, but as Congress
will not go along with all of those cuts, some of the science and
technology programs will be eliminated instead. The scientific
community should be prepared to help Congress make its
selections. Some items on the science and technology menu:
* NSF, which is on track for doubling by 1994, is hoping for a
whopping 18% increase in Research and Related Activities; the
emphasis is on individual investigators. Initiatives in global
change (+50%), advanced manufacturing (+31%), advanced materials
(+20%) and high performance computing (+30%) get most of the
increase. Physics won't do quite that well (+7.4% to $149M).
* DOE, which must devote most of its increase to cleanup, has
shed much of the gloom from the Townes panel exercise. The SSC
is on schedule at $650M (up from $484M). Fermilab's injector
upgrade would get $30M, thanks to the clout of the Illinois
congressional delegation. The rest of High Energy is flat.
* NASA, which just learned that slime mold can survive on the
shuttle, wants another $2.25B for Space Station Freedom to
continue this important work. The shuttle program is being cut
back, Magellan will be prematurely terminated to save money and
the comet rendezvous and asteroid flyby mission finally stopped
breathing. A couple of robotic missions to the Moon are proposed.
* DOD, which plans to halt most weapons development programs at
the prototype stage, is nevertheless planning to buy 20 "stealth"
bombers, which will presumably be mothballed since they have no
known use. SDI would get $5.4B in FY 93 and $40B over the next
5 years to defend North Dakota against a scud attack from Canada.
2. DINGELL PLANS TO EXPAND INDIRECT COST PROBE TO OTHER
research organizations. "We are looking forward
to a burst of generosity from those institutions in returning
funds," Dingell said in a sardonic comment on voluntarily
repayment of improper charges as soon as universities face an
audit. In hearings on Wednesday, GAO auditors described the
overcharges as "systemic."