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Bush's '93 budget brightens civilian R&D.

The federal budget President Bush sent to Congress last week had to comply with a chilling constraint: A congressional act, aimed at cutting the deficit, freezes most domestic spending at current levels. And overall, the $ 76.6 billion that Bush requested for research and development in fiscal year 1993, which begins this Oct. 1, shows no increases over fiscal 1992 spending -- after accounting for a projected 3 percent inflation rate.

But that sobering statistic hides a key feature. Defense R&D spending, which makes up about 59 percent of the pot, would sustain a 2 percent decrease after inflation. By contrast, civilian R&D would enjoy a modest but significant inflation-adjusted increase of 4 percent, with several R&D agencies enjoying a real-dollar boost of 1 to 8 percent.

(Percent changes noted for all subsequent budget figures are adjusted to account for the administration's fiscal 1992 inflation estimate.)

As in the past two years, Bush's budget planners sought to make a big splash in science with a colorful booklet highlighting a big budget and "unprecedented" interagency coordination in key research areas. Global change came first, followed by science education and high-performance computing and communication in fiscal 1992. For fiscal 1993, biotechnology and advanced materials and processing have gained high status as "new initiatives."

Although Congress will likely alter Bush's spending blueprint before appropriating funds for it later this year, law-makers have a history of supporting increases for science. Among highlights in the President's R&D budget:

* The Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars" program, would skyrocket to $5.4 billion, a 27 percent increase.

* At $175 million, funding for the Human Genome Project would climb 4 percent.

* The Superconducting Super Collider would get $650 million, a 28 percent increase.

* Throughout the federal government, grants to individual researchers would rise 6 percent -- to $8 million.

* A grants program in agricultural R&D would jump by 50 percent, to $150 million. The administration plans to target the funds into programs on the environment; nutrition, food quality and health; plant research (including genetics); marketing, trade and policy; animal studies; and developing new products.

* Bush proposes $1.4 billion, a 14 percent increase, for transportation R&D. Some $470 million would fund aviation R&D, and $8 million (a 37 percent jump) would support high-speed rail projects, including magnetically levitated trains. Together, NASA and the Defense Department would contribute $260 million toward development of the National


Aerospace Plane.

Space: NASA's R&D budget would rise 8.5 percent. Although funding for Space Station Freedom would rise 8 percent, to $2.25 billion, the President proposes to kill a mission to fly past a comet as well as efforts to develop an advanced rocket motor for launching heavier space shuttle payloads. The proposed budget provides no funds for continuing Magellan's highly successful mission to Venus, and NASA hopes to save funds this year to keep the mission going until mid-1993 so that the craft can complete a gravity map of the planet and conduct further radar mapping. The 1993 cutoff would end the mission 1.5 years earlier than planned. And despite the recommendation of the National Research Council, the President seeks no funds for the proposed Space Infrared Telescope.

Materials and technology: Calling this "the age of tailored materials," Presidential Science Adviser D. Allan Bromley described a 1993 budget of $1.8 billion to stimulate an effort by 10 federal agencies to support and expand existing programs and to explore new opportunities for all aspects of materials science.

The proposed budget for the new interagency Advanced Materials and Processing Program (AMPP) represents a 7 percent increase for materials science from 1992 levels. Relatively small players in materials research would get the biggest percentage boosts: NASA would receive a $29 million increase to last year's budget of $124.5 million, in part for support of the National Aerospace Plane; the Department of Transportation would get $15.5 million, an increase of $6.7 million.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the departments of energy and defense will continue to support most materials research. But a proposed decline of $16.7 million in the Defense Department's materials R&D budget would help reduce total support for superconducting materials from $151.7 million to $142.9 million. Research on metals, electronic materials and optical and photonic materials is slated to climb almost 7 percent. Research on other materials, including composites, biomolecular materials and ceramics, would climb at least 9 percent.

After past cuts and inflation, these increases barely boost materials funding be ond its level of two years ago.

Enjoying a 23 percent increase, to $310.7 million, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would fare even better than AMPP. Its $67.9 million Advanced Technology Program includes $18 million for up to 10 new projects by industry, aimed at developing technologies with commercial potential. The proposal also includes $202 million for research within NIST -- with boosts of 30 percent or more for manufacturing engineering, computer systems and technology assistance.

National Science Foundation: In the President's spending plan, NSF would receive a nearly 18 percent R&D increase -- enough to keep the foundation on track for doubling its 1987 budget allotment by fiscal year 1994. NSF's support of interagency initiatives in global change, advanced manufacturing, high-performance computing and advanced materials garnered most of the increase. The proposed budget would also allocate $48 million to continue construction of twin gravitational-wave detectors.

Global change: The Bush administration has long maintained that countries should learn more about global climate change before taking strong and potentially costly steps to counter the problem. In his fiscal 1993 budget requests, the President proposes spending $1.37 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a coordinated effort by 11 agencies. This represents a 21 percent increase.

NASA would receive 65 percent of the global change research funds, reflecting a growing dependence on data collected by satellite instruments. The administration could run into trouble with Congress over its $308.4 million budget request for the Earth Observing System (EOS), an armada of sensor-laden spacecraft that would monitor the climate for a 15-year period starting in the late 1990s. Last year, Congress slashed the President's proposed EOS budget -- from $336 million down to $188.4 million -- and told NASA to fashion a cheaper program that could yield useful information sooner.

Environment: The new budget proposal slates $18.3 billion -- an 18 percent increase -- for environmental programs throughout the federal government. With a 23 percent increase, the $5.5 billion earmarked for the Energy Department's cleanup of contamination at its nuclear-weapons facilities would constitute the single largest environmental outlay. Indeed, EPA's proposed budget -- including salaries and overhead -- totals only $7 billion.

Within EPA, the President has budgeted a 67 percent increase, to $101.9 million, for activies to "aggressively" implement the new Clean Air Act amendments (SN: 11/3/90, p.277). The agency's radon-mitigation research program would also climb steeply in the coming year - 42 percent, to $ 5.1 million. Superfund activities would climb 5.2 percent in the new year, to $ 1.75 billion. And EPA's program for investigating the neurotoxicity of poisonous chemicals would increase 2.9 percent, to $ 26.8 million.

The President proposes a 32 percent increase - to $ 812 million - for federal programs aimed at conserving wetlands. The new budget would also increase funding by 47 percent, to $ 42 million, for programs to develop what the White House calls "environmentally benign" vehicles.

Biomedicine/biotechnology: The new budget proposal includes a $ 4.03 billion program to coordinate and spur biotechnology advances in agriculture, energy, the environment and health care across 12 federal agencies. This would represent a 4 percent increase in total spending for biotechnology.

In the health budget, the Centers for Disease Control would receive the largest percentage increase - roughly 5 percent, to $ 1.64 billion. The increase would help boost the number of children who receive immunizations against childhood diseases ($349 million total), prevent lead poisoning among children ($ 40 million total), pay for routine mammograms and Pap smears for low-income women ($ 70 million total) nad stem the recent surge in drug-resistant tuberculosis ($ 40 million total). CDC's spending on AIDS research and prevention would increase 2 percent, to $ 505 million. AIDS spending across all federal health agencies would total $ 2.07 billion in 1993.

The President's budget plan for the National Institutes of Health includes a 2 percent increase for research grants, spread fairly evenly over all biomedical fields. The proposal would fund 5,800 new and competing research grants - about 200 fewer than funded this year.

Energy: Energy Secretary James D. Watkins attributed his agency's meager budget request both to the congressionally imposed spending cap and to a reduction in "pork barreling." A slated 12.3 percent cut in the department's defense-related R&D allows some other programs to grow. For instance, natural-gas research would jump 230 percent, to $40 million. Other winners include alternative-fuels research - up 85 percent, to $32 million. But fossil-fuel R&D would fall for the second year in a row, down 7.7 percent to $ 825.2 million. And programs aimed at reviving the nuclear-power industry would fall almost 9 percent, to $344.7 million. High-energy and nuclear physics programs would remain essentially flat at $ 984 million, while biological and environmental research would rise 9 percent, to $ 384.7 million.
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Title Annotation:research and development
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 8, 1992
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