Friday, 10 Feb 95 Washington, DC
"THE ONLY NEWS SOURCE THAT IS GUARANTEED TO BE 100% O.J.
1. THE PRESIDENT'S FY96 BUDGET REQUEST: GOOD NEWS IN TIGHT
It will be if it translates into appropriations in the fall, but few
observers think it will. Still, it's better to start with a good request than a
bad one. Some of the highlights by agency:
- NSF: RESEARCH WOULD GO UP 7.6%; EDUCATION WOULD GO
DOWN 1.2%. Congress usually reverses the priorities, but this year
could be different. The Physics division does particularly well, with a
9.1% increase, and Materials Research would go up 8.9%. NSF is the
only agency calling for increased university R&D (up 3.6%).
- DOD: UNIVERSITY RESEARCH WOULD TAKE ANOTHER BIG HIT (-
$317M). Et tu Brute? University research lost $200M this year in the
Murtha rampage (WN 30 Sep 94). Now the President's FY 96 budget
calls for another $317M cut in university research, to $1.35B.
- DOE: $100M FACILITIES INITIATIVE WOULD INCREASE RUNNING TIME;
the Department's costly basic research facilities are now idled half the
time for lack of operating funds. The ANS was scrapped, but a new
spallation neutron source at Oak Ridge is proposed.
- NASA: $30M TO START A "NEW MILLENNIUM SPACECRAFT"
PROGRAM. Cheaper, faster, better spacecraft: Dan Goldin promises a
tenth the cost and a tenth the weight of existing spacecraft.
2. NSF CREATES A NEW "OFFICE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY ACTIVITIES."
According to Science magazine, not everyone is happy about it.
Complaints focus on failure to discuss OMA with the community, and
fears that the purpose is to move NSF further toward applied research.
That prompted Bill Harris, head of Math and Physical
Sciences, to issue an explanatory letter. The goal, he says, is
"to ensure that bureaucratic boundaries do not prevent the best ideas
from being supported." OMA is funded this year at $30M.
3. STATE OF THE UNION: PRESIDENT IS CAUGHT WITH HIS PLANTS
Although the President did not use the word "science" (WN 3
Feb 95) , he did mention one science program -- disparagingly: "For years,
Congress concealed scores of pet spending projects. Last year was no
different. There was a $1M project to study stress in plants and $12M
for a tick removal project that didn't work. It's hard to remove those ticks,
but if you give me the line item veto, I'll remove some of that unnecessary
spending." (Laughter.) Plant biologists were not amused. "Plant stress,"
refers to low light levels, drought, heat, etc., and the development of
stress resistant crop strains has been a major advance in agriculture.
Worse, the example was filched from Ross Perot, who asked in his
campaign why taxpayers should care about the feelings of plants.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)