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Date: April 13, 1999
Contacts: Barbara J. Rice, Deputy Director
Brad Bortone, Media Relations Assistant
(202) 334-2138; e-mail <>


Balanced Investment Strategy Important for Nation's
Science and Technology Research Enterprise

WASHINGTON -- The health of the federal science and technology enterprise depends on a balanced investment strategy across a broad range of research fields, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

The report -- by a guidance group of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy -- analyzes the administration's proposed science and technology budget for fiscal year 2000, now under consideration by Congress. The report is being issued along with an analysis of federal research and development being prepared by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for its Science and Technology Policy Colloquium, to take place April 14-16 in Washington, D.C.

The administration's FY 2000 budget request would increase federal investment in science and technology by just 0.4 percent, according to the committee's analysis. In current dollars, the budget increases 2.4 percent, from $48.3 billion in FY 1999 to $49.4 billion in FY 2000. Support for research and development at U.S. colleges and universities also would increase slightly by 0.3 percent.

These budget increases, however, are not reflected across the broad range of science and technology fields. While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have experienced significant increases since FY 1994 -- 31.2 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively -- continued cuts in funding for science and technology at the Department of Defense (DOD) threaten to weaken the overall research enterprise, the report says. DOD historically has provided significant support for research in the physical sciences and engineering.

"Increases at NIH have allowed our nation to benefit from the extraordinary opportunities presented in the life sciences," said James J. Duderstadt, chair of the group that wrote the report, and president emeritus and university professor of science and engineering, Millennium Project, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "However, successful results from basic research in the life sciences depend on the health of the physical and mathematical sciences, as well as that of other fields. The nation must recognize the importance of investing in a balanced way across a broad range of fields to maintain the overall health of the science and technology portfolio."

The administration is requesting $7.4 billion in FY 2000 for DOD's science and technology budget -- a decrease of 19.8 percent since FY 1994. At colleges and universities, DOD provides support for physical sciences and engineering, including fields such as engineering, material science, and mathematics. This budget decrease could pose serious problems for academic research, the report says.

Although funding to support the physical sciences and engineering has increased substantially at NSF since 1994, the report says that those increases cannot compensate for the declines in funding at DOD and other mission agencies, such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Since 1993, federal obligations for research in the physical sciences have decreased by 11.2 percent in constant dollars, while federal support for engineering has increased by only 0.4 percent.

A major information technology initiative proposed by the president would provide $366 million in new funding for long-term, fundamental research in computing and communications. The goals of this new initiative, to be led by NSF, DOE, and DOD, are the development of a new generation of supercomputers and infrastructure for computer simulation and modeling applications; research on the social and economic implications of information technology; and work-force training. The initiative represents a 28 percent increase in the government's investment in information technology research.

Several smaller R&D agencies are slated to receive increased funding under the president's budget proposal. The Department of Education would receive $25 million for research on primary education. The Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service would receive $200 million for the National Research Initiative, which provides competitive research grants. And the Department of Transportation's Highway Research and Deployment Initiative would receive $390 million.

The development of this report was supported by the National Research Council. The National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine are private, non-profit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. Rosters for the committee and its guidance group follow.

Read the full text ofObservations on the President's Fiscal Year 2000 Federal Science and Technology Budget for free on the Web, as well as more than 1,800 other publications from the National Academies. Printed copies are available for purchase from the National Academy Press Web site or at the mailing address in the letterhead; tel. (202) 334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information at the letterhead address (contacts listed above).

Policy Division

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy