Uncertainty Clouds R&D Budget
ADOPTED hastily by Congress last fall, the now famous Gramm-Rudman-Hollings legislation has set the nation on a course to sharply cut the annual deficits of the federal budget. But the legislation also has unleashed a budgetary crisis on Capitol Hill, which may not be resolved until late summer. The simmering debate has created vast uncertainty about federal funding levels for research. This problem dominated discussion at the 11th Annual Colloquium on R&D Policy held in Washington 26-27 March by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The level of support for research and academe may be subject to greater change than in the recent past, depending on how Congress settles budgetary differences with the White House on ways to meet the $144-billion deficit target for fiscal year 1987. In fact, it is not clear at this point whether the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings goal of eliminating annual budget deficits by 1991 will be retained in future years. But even if the regislation's goal is modified, as some economists and legislators expect, competition for federal dollars will be intense during the rest of the decade. Summing up the funding scene, John P. McTague, acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, says it is necessary to make "More effective use of what we have, together with the reasoned, steady increases the President has proposed."
Although much of the research enterprise has been treated well in the Reagan Administration's 1987 budget proposal, Senator Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, warned the colloquium's 425 participants that R&D could be ambushed. Unless the Congress...