Federal R&D spared from general axing.
The budget request that President Reagan sent to Congress this week attempts to freeze this coming year's federal nondefense spending at fiscal year (FY) 1985 levels. But the key adjective is "nondefense."
Since two thirds of the $52.6 billion in outlays being proposed for support of research and development (R&D) would go toward defense-related programs, the federal R&D budget would actually be allowed to climb 14.7 percent in this austere budget -- a real gain of 10 percent when inflation is taken into account. (Outlays are actual sums that would be spent, as opposed to obligations, which are commitments to spend money in the current or future fiscal years.)
Overall funding outlays for basic research would increase by 5 percent in this budget; obligations for engineering and physical science components would climb 7 percent, the same increase slated for the National Science Foundation (NSF NSF - National Science Foundation ). In explaining how the administration targeted its few increases, Presidential Science Adviser George A. Keyworth II says programs were generally judged on their potential for making U.S. products more competitive in international markets, for reducing the deficit and for aiding national defense--specifically, reducing the presence and threat of nuclear weapons.
Keyworth cites the latter, for example, in justifying the administration's $3.7 billion appropriations request for the Defense Department's Strategic Defense Initiative Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), U.S. government program responsible for research and development of a space-based system to defend the nation from attack by strategic ballistic missiles (see guided missile). (or "Star Wars" program) -- a figure 2-1/2 times its current FY '85 budget allotment. Similarly, he says, increases in biotechnology and in earth sciences and oceanographic studies were motivated by their potential payoff in terms of the nation's economic competitiveness. At NSF, biotechnology programs benefit with a proposed increase of $9.3 million, up 13.3 percent. NSF research on the earth's continental lithosphere (crust)--owing to its relevance to energy and minerals exploration--has been targeted for a 62.7 percent increase, to $11.4 million.
To free up some money for research, Keyworth says that the design and construction of many large research projects would be slowed or deferred at least a year. Unable to name those affected, he does say they would not included the Cold Neutron Research Facility for materials-science studies at the National Bureau of Standards National Bureau of Standards: see National Institute of Standards and Technology.
National Bureau of Standards - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NBS (National Bureau of Standards) See NIST.
NBS - National Bureau of Standards: part of the US Department of Commerce, now NIST. ), the Superconducting Super Collider
The Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) was a ring particle accelerator which was planned to be built in the area around Waxahachie, Texas. (SN: 9/22/84, p. 181) or the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (SN: 9/17/83, p. 190).
Offsetting some of the big increases are a few proposed program terminations. Included among them are:
* The $31 million magnetohydrodynamics magnetohydrodynamics (măgnē'tōhī'drōdīnăm`ĭks), study of the motions of electrically conducting fluids and their interactions with magnetic fields. program in the Energy Department's fossil fuels technology program.
* The $19.5 million Sea Grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Noun 1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - an agency in the Department of Commerce that maps the oceans and conserves their living resources; predicts changes to the earth's environment; provides weather reports and forecasts floods and hurricanes and (NOAA NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Noun 1. NOAA - an agency in the Department of Commerce that maps the oceans and conserves their living resources; predicts changes to the earth's environment; ). In fact, the Reagan administration has asked that even this year's FY '85 budget for the program be rescinded.
* The Center for Fire Research at NBS. Funding of the type of work conducted there was deemed "more property the role of the private sector and state and local governments." Like Sea Grant, this program was proposed for termination by the administration last year too.
* Small NSF programs titled Ethics and Values in Science and Technology, Productivity Improvement Research, Inter-governmental Science and Technology, Science and Innovation Policy, Policy Sciences, and Regulation and Policy Analyses. These programs were considered too low in priority for funding during a period of constrained budgets.
* NOAA's $5.6 million aquaculture aquaculture, the raising and harvesting of fresh- and saltwater plants and animals. The most economically important form of aquaculture is fish farming, an industry that accounts for an ever increasing share of world fisheries production. program, $1.4 million agricultural weather and fruit frost program, and $400,000 ocean thermal energy conversion Ocean thermal energy conversion(OTEC) is a method for generating electricity which utilizes the temperature difference that exists between deep and shallow waters — within 20° of the equator in the tropics — to run a heat engine. licensing program.