Friday, 26 Nov 1993 Washington, DC
1. "UNDIRECTED FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH" ADDED TO WHITE HOUSE LIST!
A White House memo titled "Principles for the FY 95 R&D Budget,"
dated 17 August, aroused some apprehension in this paranoid town
when it leaked out. Although the memo, signed by Science Advisor
Jack Gibbons and OMB Director Leon Panetta, put "vigorous support
for basic research" at the top of its list of priorities, it
called for agencies to categorize R&D into very applied-sounding
areas: 1) Manufacturing, 2) Communications, 3) Natural Resources,
4) Education, 5) Transportation, 6) National Security, 7) Energy,
8) Food, 9) Health, and 10) Other. Where would the big bang go?
Or the top quark? OSTP, which is still refining the new framework,
added another category, "Undirected Fundamental Research."
2. GATT AGREEMENT WOULD CAP FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR APPLIED RESEARCH!
The Clinton Administration's pursuit of expanded trade has come
into conflict with its technology policy. The draft of the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade treats research as a domestic
subsidy. The Government share in industry partnerships, such as
SEMATECH or the clean car initiative, would be limited to 50% of
the costs of "basic industrial research," or 25% of the costs of
"applied industrial research." Members of Congress and officials
of technology agencies are urging the White House to oppose the
language. Unfortunately, it was the U.S., during the Bush
Administration, that lobbied for limits on research subsidies.
The resulting language was later opposed by Allan Bromley and the
other senior technology officials of the Bush Administration.
3. FY 94 DEFENSE BILL: BARRELS OF PORK--BUT IT'S LESS ACADEMIC!
As WN reported last week, the FY 94 Defense Appropriations Bill
has billions in earmarks--but less of it seems to be for academic
science this year, thanks to George Brown (D-CA). It's tough to
separate academic pork from all the rest, but the House Science
Committee has come up with a preliminary figure of $197M. Even
the Technology Reinvestment Program contains earmarks of at least
$24M, in spite of the Brown Amendment requiring TRP funds to be
awarded competitively (WN 1 Oct 93).
This year's big winner is
the University of Pittsburgh, which gets a fat $70M; what the
taxpayers get is screwed. Would you believe the chair of the
House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is Rep. John Murtha
from Pennsylvania? Would you also believe that Mr. Murtha is an
alumni of the University of Pittsburgh? It's a small world.
4. APS PROPOSES TO STUDY PATRIOT MISSILE PERFORMANCE IN GULF WAR.
Claims of near-perfect success were used to justify billions for
Theater Missile Defense. But when MIT physicist Ted Postol went
public with evidence of near-zero success, the Pentagon accused
him of revealing secret information. Last Sunday, the APS Council
voted unanimously to study the issue if a government sponsor will
ensure access to classified information and Pentagon cooperation.
On the same day, Israeli officials called the Patriot "a joke."