Chemical & Engineering News

May 12, 1997


Copyright © 1997 by the American Chemical Society

Federal R&D suffers under balanced-budget resolution

A budget resolution is just that, a resolution. It is not a law and therefore not binding. But in Congress, the "function" figures must be adhered to in the immediate fiscal year, in this case, fiscal 1998. This table shows that funding for most R&D functions are projected to go down over the next five years as Congress balances the federal budget. Individual categories within each function--the amount for defense R&D, for example-- can rise or fall depending on the give-and-take of debate within the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for all military programs. Although this budget resolution indicates R&D reductions, next year a new resolution will be debated, and the numbers will surely change.

Most noticeable about this year's resolution is the 56.7% increase projected over the next five years for the Commerce Department's R&D budget. This increase is for the National Institute of Standards & Technology. The Clinton Administration insisted on protecting NIST's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) from any budgetary cuts. That, however, will not prevent ATP's opponents from attempting, once again, to dismantle it.

The National Science Foundation, from all accounts, seems safely headed for a 7.2% increase for fiscal 1998. To get this kind of increase, NSF's supporters in the appropriations process must horse-trade among unrelated categories such as the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement programs and various housing and veterans affairs initiatives.

The health R&D item, which really means the National Institutes of Health, will almost certainly not experience a decrease in any year. Lobby groups are pressing for a 9% increase in NIH funding. The fascination in such a table lies not so much in the numbers but in the dynamics of the process. That is why the names of key budget legislators are so important to know. They control who gets what.

$ Billions 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 % change
1997-2002
Nondefense R&D $40.68 $40.89 $41.20 $40.61 $40.20 $39.88 -2.0%
Function 250:
General Science & Spacea
16.63 16.20 16.20 15.90 15.80 15.60 -6.2
Function 270:
Energy R&D
3.64 3.80 4.08 3.84 3.67 3.52 -3.3
Function 300:
Natural Resourcesb
5.19 5.66 5.66 5.60 5.48 5.48 5.6
Function 350:
Agriculture
1.28 1.21 1.19 1.19 1.18 1.19 -7.0
Function 370:
Commerce
0.60 0.72 0.76 0.78 0.85 0.94 56.7
Function 550:
Health
13.34 13.30 13.31 13.30 13.22 13.15 -1.4
Function 050:
National Defense
36.59 35.93 35.04 33.40 32.90 34.25 -6.4
TOTAL FEDERAL R&D $77.27 $76.82 $76.24 $74.01 $73.10 $74.13 -4.1%

a Includes basic energy sciences, National Aeronautics & Space Administration and National Science Foundation. b Includes Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Geological Survey. Source: House Science Committee minority staff


RETURN TO ARTICLE