Friday, 26 Feb 93 Washington, DC
1. GAO SAYS SUPERCOLLIDER IS "OVER BUDGET AND BEHIND SCHEDULE!"
Just in the area of conventional construction, which is budgeted
at $1.25B, the projected overrun will be between $640M and $1B,
according to a General Accounting Office report released this
week. In a detailed response, Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary
insists the GAO based its conclusions on faulty assumptions and
insufficient data. According to our sources, the GAO report was
languishing in the office of George Brown (D-CA), chair of the
House Science Committee, so Sherwood Boehlert (D-NY), an ardent
SSC foe, decided to hold his own press conference to release it.
But Sam Donaldson of ABC News persuaded Boehlert to cancel the
press conference and give him an exclusive for "Prime Time Live."
When Brown got wind of this, he hurriedly called his own press
conference to release the report together with the DOE response.
Too late. ABC went ahead with a "Washington waste" segment on
Prime Time. The story dealt less with billion dollar overruns
than with "posh" parties and sending out for sandwiches. But the
negative coverage comes at a bad time; President Clinton has just
challenged Congress to find additional programs that can be cut.
2. GAO DID NOT OFFER DOE AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT ON THE REPORT
prior to its release. According to Hazel O'Leary, the project is
16% complete and has used only 3.5% of its contingency fund. And
in a memo to SSC employees, Roy Schwitters said ABC interviewed
him but did not include the interview on "Prime Time Live." Vice
President Gore defended the SSC on this morning's "Today" show.
3.CLINTON CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL CUT IN UNIVERSITY OVERHEAD RATE!
Almost unnoticed in the President's economic plan, "A Vision of
Change for America," was a projected savings of $1.2B over four
years in indirect costs of research. According to the plan, each
dollar of research funding in 1972 cost an additional 30 cents to
cover the university's administrative overhead--by 1990 that had
risen to 46 cents. Clinton's vision of change is to go back to
1972--which means capping overhead rates at 23%. This is a shock
to university administrators, who were still appealing a 26% cap
imposed two years ago by the Bush administration (WN 24 May 91).
4. NSF SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION HEARING FOCUSED ON SHORT TERM.
Walter Massey explained that $85M of the $207M FY 93 supplemental
(WN 19 Feb 93)
is for "curiosity-driven research that
promotes long-term economic growth." But Louis Stokes (D-OH), the
chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee, wanted to know how many
jobs the money will create this year, and Rep. Dean Gallo (R-NJ)
insisted that supplemental appropriations are for emergencies,
"like cleaning up after floods, landslides and earthquakes." "We
don't clean up after earthquakes," Massey shot back, "our program
prevents earthquakes." The hearing ended with Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
declaring that the supplemental process "is just a production to
show we're doing something--and I'm proud of us!" (Applause)