from the budget-battles dept.
An article in EE Times ("Science panel calls for balanced research spending", by George Leopold, 26 March 2002) reports on an increasing level of scrutiny of the Bush administrationís proposed funding priorities for science and technology spending in the U.S. national budget for FY2003, including nanotechnology. According to the article, "The House Science Committee is calling for increased federal funding in fiscal 2003 for technology research and development programs and for a balancing of funding for biomedical and physical science research."
In its annual "views and estimates" of the federal budget request, the Republican-controlled science panel said the Bush administration's research budget request is skewed heavily in support of biomedical research, especially at the National Institutes of Health, which is slated to receive an annual budget increase larger than the entire $5.04 billion budget requested for the National Science Foundation [NSF]. The committee endorsed the Bush administration's "multi-agency R&D" priorities for network and information technology, nanotechnology and anti-terrorism programs. The White House requested a 3 percent increase in funding for networking and information technology research. It also proposed a 17 percent increase in funding next year for nanotechnology research. The committee said it might address nanotechnology research in legislation later this year.
Additional coverage and analysis can be found on the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Science Policy website:
- "Science Committee Questions Level, Balance of Federal Research Investment", by Audrey T. Leath, 22 February 2002. According to this report, "At a wide-ranging February 13 hearing on the President's FY 2003 budget request for R&D, House Science Committee members generally supported the budget's emphasis on anti-terrorism, homeland and economic security, and health research, but also indicated that they would try to find additional funds for science programs. As Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said, the budget priorities are 'reasonable' and 'self-evident' and 'deserve to be funded more generously than are other programs.' But he added that 'the focusing of the proposed R&D budget on two narrowly defined priority areas [defense and health] has left the spending for other agencies anemic.' He later commented that if it were not for defense and national security needs, 'this committee collectively would be madder than hell, to put it bluntly,' at the funding levels for some parts of the science enterprise."
- "Research Subcommittee, Witnesses Support Higher NSF Funding", again by Audrey T. Leath , 26 March 2002. According to this report, "[M]embers of the House Science Committee are already working to get funding for the National Science Foundation increased above the President's request of $5.04 billion. At a March 13 hearing of the House Science Subcommittee on Research, Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) . . . told witnesses that he would use their testimony to make the case for higher NSF funding to appropriators. Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI) described how committee members were 'aggressive' in trying to get NSF funding increased in the House Budget Committee's version of a budget resolution. On that same day, the Budget Committee approved a resolution containing an 11 percent increase for NSF — 6 percent more than the Administration requested."
Some insight into the high level of support for the NSF and for nanotechnology research in particular can be found in a speech delivered on 8 March 2002 by House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) at a nanotechnology conference held at the Brookhaven National Laboratory to formally launched the Labís new $55 million Center for Functional Nanomaterials (see Nanodot post from 22 March 2002). Boehlert said, "I will do everything in my power to ensure that nanotechnology research gets the funding it deserves — not just in the Department of Energy [which operates the Brookhaven Lab] but throughout the federal government."
[Some excerpts from the speech also appear on the AIP site.]
Finally, for the minority Memberís views, see "An Analysis by the Minority Staff of the House Science Committee" from 5 February 2002.
Debate over these issues is also likely to arise in the U.S. Senate if, as planned, a bill on nanotechnology research funding sponsored by Senator Joe Leiberman and others is submitted (see Nanodot post from 27 December 2001).