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D. Allan Bromley
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
United States Senate
April 24, 1990
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this morning the views of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on the Department of Energy's proposed budget for research in the fundamental physical sciences and related activities including the Superconducting Super Collider program. The FY 1991 request for DOE reflects significant investments in research at the frontiers of science, and in the research and education infrastructure that is critical to our future.
The Administration assigns high priority to science and technology. The FY 1991 budget affirms the key role of science and technology in the nation's economic competitiveness, security and quality of life. Before turning to the specific DOE-funded activities under discussion this morning, I would like to review some of the factors underlying our focus on science and technology, then describe the guidelines for setting budget priorities. I also want to highlight briefly the overall S&T budget.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
The President's budget proposal emphasizes investments in the future. One of the most effective ways to invest in our future is through support for research and development in science and technology. Research and development yield new knowledge, products and processes that contribute substantially to our economic well-being and to improvements in our welfare. Investments in R&D have a high social rate of return through economic growth, enhanced quality of life, and development of human resources.
The United States spends more on R&D than does any other country in the world. Investments in R&D increase our capacity to innovate and also expand our knowledge base. Our ability to commercialize scientific and technological innovations effectively is a major factor in assuring long-term economic growth and competitiveness.
The contributions of science and technology to our quality of life are pervasive. We have a history of immense achievements in health, food supply, communication, transportation. In the fundamental sciences that are the focus of DOE support, major contributions have been derived from research. For example, Positron-Emission Tomography (PET), widely used for medical diagnosis and for brain research, is based on earlier basic research involving radioisotopes. The investigation of possibilities for safe underground storage for radioactive waste uses accelerator mass spectrometry of 'Cl as a sensitive monitor. These techniques also were developed in the course of basic research.
In addition to addressing specific opportunities or pressing issues, the research investments proposed in FY 1991 expand the frontiers of human knowledge. I am convinced that responding to this challenge has intrinsic value for our quality of life, beyond quantitative measure.
Investments in R&D also entail investments in education and human resources. Support for basic research, at both universities and national laboratories, is essential not only to the health of the research enterprise, but to the development of future scientists and engineers. More broadly, "human capital" is a critical component for improved productivity. The key role of science and mathematics in developing human capital is recognized in the education goals recently set by the President and the Governors. One of these goals is that U.S. students be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement by the year 2000.
Education at all levels needs to be revitalized. This revitalization involves not only the training of scientists, engineers, and the technical workforce but also the education of a population sufficiently literate in science and technology to deal with the social issues arising from rapid scientific and technological change. Achieving such a goal requires a broad-based approach involving businesses, academia, educational organizations, and State and local governments. Responsibility belongs to every sector, not just, and not primarily, to the federal government.
The Administration's emphasis on R&D provides a basis for budget formulation. Within that framework choices must be made. In the course of determining optimum allocation of funds across the R&D agency budgets, the Administration has applied three quite simple guidelines:
Support should be provided for programs that address national needs and national security concerns. Examples
are the federal environmental clean-up effort, scientific research to address global change, a preeminence in space, and adequate support for the defense technology base. Implicit in this is consideration of the balance of R&D funding for civilian versus defense needs.
Basic research must be adequately supported. Basic
Funding for the scientific infrastructure and facilities in this country must keep pace with advancing intellectual frontiers, and must provide the base for maintaining our scientific preeminence. Large facilities such as the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) are essential if American scientists are to remain at the research frontiers of their fields. Once these facilities are built, they serve thousands of scientists and make possible a scientific understanding of the world and universe in which we live. They are essential for the health of our R&D enterprise.
With this background on the pivotal role of science and technology for the future, I would like to highlight briefly some aspects of overall S&T support the President's budget request, and then turn to the DOE fundamental physical science programs.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE FY 1991 BUDGET
The Administration's FY 1991 budget proposes a healthy increase of 7 percent in the conduct of both civilian and defense R&D. Even more encouraging to me is the distribution of that funding. The Administration's
proposals would increase civilian R&D 12 percent, from $23.8 billion in FY 1990 to $26.7 billion in FY 1991. Basic research would go up about 8 percent, from $11.4 billion to $12.4 billion. At a time of declining real defense expenditures, proposed defense R&D would rise by 4 percent and defense basic research by 5.9 percent.
Altogether, the total conduct of R&D, both civilian and defense, would rise to $68.1 billion. Adding $3.1 billion for construction, repair, and modernization of R&D facilities brings the total proposed federal support for R&D to $71.2 billion. This amount is 5.1 percent of the total budget for FY 1991 and 1.3 percent of the U.S. gross national
product. In FY 1990, the corresponding percentages were 5.0 percent of the total budget and 1.2 percent of GNP.
This year's budget proposals have the effect of changing the proportions of civilian and defense R&D funded by the federal government. During the 1980s, defense R&D rose much faster than civilian R&D, reaching a peak of 69 percent defense and 31 percent civilian in 1986. Since 1986, the ratio of civilian R&D to defense R&D has been growing steadily, and in FY 1991 civilian R&D is projected to be 39 percent of the total conduct of federal R&D.
The Administration is committed to doubling the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF) by 1993 from a base year of 1987. Research funding in the National Science Foundation would increase by about 11 percent, while science and engineering education increases by about 23 percent, for an overall NSF increase of 14.3 percent in FY 1991 to $2.4 billion. Over 90 percent of NSF's budget supports basic research, primarily at colleges and universities. NSF supports a broad range of research, within its open mission to assure the health of science and engineering in the U.S.
Funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is proposed to increase 24 percent overall, to a total of $15.2 billion. Within the $2.9 billion increase for NASA is $2.0 billion in additional support for R&D, bringing NASA's total R&D effort to $9.3 billion in FY 1991. The Space Exploration Initiative, Space Station Freedom, and Mission to Planet Earth are part of an overall strategy to maintain the nation's world leadership in space by establishing a transportation infrastructure; expanding the space frontier through manned exploration; using space to increase our scientific understanding; and developing the commercial potential of space.
Research and development in the Department of Defense (DOD) is proposed to increase by 4 percent to $39 billion in FY 1991. Basic research would grow by 5.9 percent, to $978 million. A strong research and technology base is the key to our national security, and is critical to enable investigation into promising new technologies and to guard against technological surprise.
I wish also to highlight the multi-agency investments planned for science, mathematics and engineering education. The FY 1991 budget proposes a total of $1 billion for this purpose across five agencies, an increase of 26 percent above FY 1990. A variety of programs provide support for teacher training, curriculum development, and direct assistance to students. The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Energy are moving aggressively on a
number of fronts to address shortcomings in our S&T education enterprise.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH IN THE
With this perspective, let me turn now to the Administration's proposed FY 1991 funding for the Department of Energy activities in the areas of particular focus in this Hearing - fundamental science and the SSC project. Support for these activities comes from the DOE budgets for General Science and Research and for Basic Energy Sciences. The Administration has requested an increment of $175 million for General Science for FY 1991, for a total of $1.3 billion. This increment is divided among high energy physics (up 6.7 percent), nuclear physics (up 14.2 percent), and the Superconducting Super Collider (up $99.3 million or 45.4 percent). Funding for research in the Basic Energy Sciences is requested by the Administration for FY 1991 at a level of $648.7 million, 13.8 percent above the FY 1990 level. I will return to these activities in a moment, but I want to digress briefly to note that the President's budget proposal does not call for building SSC at the expense of other research areas. Indeed, it is Administration policy that the SSC construction will not be permitted to impact adversely the overall level of federal support for the conduct of research by individual scientists, small groups, or the users of large facilities.
Of course, difficult choices always will have to be made, and this year was no exception. Overall, the DOE R&D budget is proposed to increase by 3.1 percent to just under $7.4 billion, but the priority-setting guidelines that I outlined above led the Administration to propose significantly greater changes in selected subareas. Thus, the Department's Global Change Research Program will increase by 32 percent to $66 million in FY 1991. Funding to support the Department's programs in science, mathematics and engineering education will increase by 47 percent to $25 million. Defense-related R&D will continue at a level of effort slightly below that of FY 1990.
Basic Energy Sciences
The BES program supports research that advances our fundamental understanding of the science and technology that underpins our national energy supply. The program provides direct support for over 4000 investigators in the physical, biological and mathematical sciences. In addition, the BES program provides support for the operation of a variety of major user facilities, such as synchrotron radiation sources, neutron sources and the Combustion Research Facility. The facilities are used for research by scientists from industry, academia and government laboratories. They provide a fertile environment for cross