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FY '88: who got what for research and development.

FY '88: Who got what for research and development?

While science programs were not immune to the deficit-cutting atmosphere that permeated the long battle over the budget for fiscal year (FY) 1988, federally funded research and development (R&D) survived fairly well overall.

According to an analysis released last week by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Congress authorized a total of $61.1 billion for R&D programs -- that's $6 billion less than the administration's request but $2 billion more than the estimated R&D expenditures in FY '87. Basic research received $9.8 billion, which, with inflation, represents an increase of about 3 percent from FY '87. Boosts to the budgets of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) account for much of this increase. As in past years, Congress cut the administration's request for defense-related R&D (including the Strategic Defense Initiative program, which received less than its FY '87 appropriation) while raising nondefense R&D spending. Still, defense R&D accounts for 67 percent of federal R&D funds.

The main science casualty of the FY '88 budget battle was the National Science Foundation (NSF), which had been riding high onthe administration's plan to increase NSF funding by 17 percent in 1988 and to double its budget over the next five years. But Congress allotted the agency only $1.7 billion, which represents a 5.5 percent increase over FY '87 levels but is 9 percent below the administration's request. In slicing up the NSF pie, Congress increased support of science education programs, especially at the precollege level, to $139.2 million, which is 21 percent above the Presidenths request and 41 percent higher than the amount allocated in FY '87. But these increases came at the expense of research programs, which make up about 85 percent of NSF's budget. For these, the FY '88 level is only 3 percent higher than the previous year, and with inflation, this means NSF has a shade less money to distribute in grants than it did last year. Without the expected increases, NSF has decided to delay a multimillion-dollar program that would have begun to establish a series of new science and technology centers this year.

NASA also received less than requested. Here the administration had asked for $3.6 billion for R&D, a 14.9 percent increase above FY '87, but Congress allocated $249 million less. Most space R&D programs received increases and, unsolicited, Congress added money for two new initiatives, an industrial space facility and an extended-duration orbiter. But funding for the space station was curtailed and Congress, granting only $425 million of the $767 million requested, directed th agency to revise the schedule and scope of the project.

At the DOE, funding for high-temperature superconductivity was nearly doubled to $18 million, and according to AAAS, R&D programs overall received a 7 percent boost above FY '87 levels. Of particular note, Congress supplied the $25 million requested for R&D for the $4.4 billion Superconducting Super Collider but declined to provide the $10 million requested for its construction.

At NIH, funding for AIDS research rose 77 percent to $448 million, while non-AIDS funding increased by 4.8 percent. In the Public Health Service (which includes NIH), AIDS research funding was set at $931 million, in line with the trend over the last six years of roughly doubling support for AIDS research each year. In total, federal spending on AIDS research, treatment and testing in FY '88 will be $1.5 billion.

Finally, Congress continued to ignite controversy with allocations that bypass the scientific review process. AAAS notes, for example, that FY '88 was a record year for pork barrel funding (SN: 4/18/87, p.246), with Congress earmarking money for specific construction projects and, for the first time, for specific research programs as well -- all without agency review. Congress earmarked an estimated $108 million of the Department of Defense (DOD) budget and more than $145 million of DOE's funding. In another move, Congress stipulated that no more than 14 percent of DOD's University Research Initiative funds ($110 million was given in FY '88 to boost basic DOD research at universities) can go to any one state. DOD and some university officials and scientists see this as a dangerous precedent that sacrifices scientific goals in favor of geographic equality.
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Title Annotation:proposed federal budget
Author:Weisburd, Stefi
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 27, 1988
Previous Article:FY '89 budget: lean and much less defense-oriented.
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