WASHINGTON, DC -- (March 24, 1997) -- The forecast for federal R&D funding has improved over past budget proposals, yet all signs continue to point downward as the Administration and Congress press for a balanced budget by the year 2002.
Following a 3.3 percent reduction in R&D spending over the past three years, the latest analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) shows that the President's R&D budget for FY 1998 will cut federal R&D spending by an additional 14 percent (in inflation-adjusted dollars) by 2002. Two years ago, Congress proposed a 33 percent reduction in R&D by the year 2002. A detailed report of the AAAS analysis will be presented at the 22nd Annual AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy April 23-25 in Washington. A brief preview report was released today by AAAS.
"Each successive budget plan proposed by Congress and the Administration since July 1995 has shown some improvement over previous projections in terms of future support for R&D programs," said Al Teich, director of the AAAS Science and Policy Programs. "Improved economic forecasts and concerted efforts to protect R&D have helped diminish some of the massive cuts previously proposed. While some in the scientific community may feel they can breathe a sigh of relief on seeing the latest figures, it is important to remember that these numbers don't mean that things are getting better for R&D; they're just projected to decline more slowly."
According to the AAAS analysis of the President's budget for FY 1998:
- A total of $75.0 billion is budgeted for R&D, representing an increase of 1.8 percent, or $1.3 billion more than the current FY 1997 funding level. After adjusting for inflation, the President's request represents a cut of 0.8 percent.
- Total support for basic research in FY 1998 would barely stay ahead of inflation at $15.3 billion, representing a 3.0 percent increase over FY 1997.
- The Department of Defense (DOD), by far the largest sponsor of federal R&D, would continue its decline of the past several years, dropping by 1.8 percent to $36.8 billion in FY 1998. The DOD's "Science and Technology" budget, which funds nearly 90 percent of the agency's support for R&D at colleges and universities, would be reduced even more, dropping 4.7 percent to $7.4 billion in FY 1998.
- Funding for R&D performed at colleges and universities would increase by 2.4 percent to $13.3 billion. Adjusted for inflation, the level represents a 0.2 percent reduction since FY 1997.
Despite the President's proposed increases, federal R&D funding would continue its downward slide of the past several years. Constant dollar R&D funding levels in all agencies except the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be lower in FY 1998 than they were in FY 1994.
Outyear projections in the budget call for additional cuts, beyond those that have already occurred. The AAAS analysis of the President's latest balanced budget plan projects a 14 percent cut in total R&D funding between FY 1997 and 2002, after adjusting for inflation. Nondefense R&D would fall by 9.4 percent, while defense R&D would drop 17.8 percent.
The April 23-25 AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy will examine the impact of the proposed cuts. It will include presentations by John H. Gibbons, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), the newly-appointed Chairman of the House Science Committee; U.S. Senator William Frist (R-TN), Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space; and Daniel Goldin, Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Representatives from six federal agencies -- the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce; and the NIH, NSF, and NASA -- will outline their respective budgets for FY 1998.
The Association is the world's largest federation of scientists with more than 144,000 individual members and nearly 300 scientific and engineering societies. It conducts a variety of programs in science policy, science education and career development, and international scientific cooperation. The Association publishes the weekly peer-reviewed journal Science and administers EurekAlert! [www.eurekalert.org], the online news service featuring discoveries in science, medicine, and technology.