Science Budgets Fare Well in House Action
RELATIVE to recent years, congressionalsupport for basic research appears to be strong. The House Appropriations Committee, in work on several funding bills, has approved healthy budget increases for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. The Senate also is expected to act favorably. Even so, officials at both federal agencies are frustrated because the gains are not as great as they would like.
Officials at NSF are disappointed becausethe committee's appropriation falls short of the Administration's goals for expanding support of basic research. Furthermore, the appropriation may be subject to a downward adjustment before final congressional action is taken this fall. Meanwhile, DOE officials are angry because they have been burdened with a number of unplanned "pork barrel' projects that may force them to rob other research programs.
In NSF's case, director Erich Bloch askedfor $1.89 billion for fiscal year 1988, a $270 million jump over the current budget. This increase was to be the first of a series of hefty budget hikes aimed at doubling NSF's support for research within 5 years. The House Appropriations Committee came in just $50 million short of his request, which means that the agency must make up the shortfall in future budgets to attain its goal by 1992.
The $220 million budget increase providedby the committee would bring NSF's budget up to a record $1.84 billion, well above the 1987 funding of $1.62 billion. But this is not sufficient to fund as many grants as the Administration had hoped. NSF's...