All indications point to a significant change in direction in
the forthcoming budget request for science and technology
programs in the FY 2002 submission that the Bush Administration
will send to Congress next Wednesday. The new administration
wants to “hold the line,” limiting overall growth in the federal
budget to only allow for inflation. After allowing for
increases for several priorities there will be little money
available for increases in other programs – including science
and technology.

This prediction could be wrong. The Bush Administration has
successfully kept its budget plans under wraps, and no one has
been able to say with any certainty what the request will look
like. A February 16 article in The Wall Street Journal has
provided the only numbers, without attribution. According to
this article, the National Science Foundation request will be up
1%, while the U.S. Geological Survey will be down 22%. The
National Institutes of Health would continue to receive
increases that would allow its budget to double by FY 2003.

The situation will become somewhat clearer next week. President
Bush will address Congress next Tuesday night. In this speech
he will discuss his priorities, his rationale for a cut in
federal taxes, and the broad outlines of his budget request.
This speech is intended to build support for his FY 2002
submission to Congress the following day (February 28.) Owing
to the short time the new Administration has been in office,
this submission will be brief, with only broad budget numbers.
(For instance, it is not known if there will be a breakout for
the DOE Office of Science.) The “budget blueprint” will be
followed by the full request, now scheduled for release on April

While there will be five weeks between the two documents, the
grand total numbers in each are expected to be almost identical.
The intervening period will be used to fill out the numbers for
various programs. In many cases, these specific numbers appear
to be a long way from being firmed up. The overall numbers are
firm; indeed, the blueprint document is being printed. About
all that the administration is now saying about funding is that
“There’ll be increases in some areas, there’ll be reductions in

President Bush’s campaign platform seems to be the best guide to
where his budget priorities stand. Significant increases were
promised during the campaign for defense, NIH, and education.
Yesterday in Tennessee, the president said he would request an
additional 8% for elementary and secondary school education.
Last week in Virginia, Bush declared in a speech about defense,
“My 2002 budget will also include $2.6 billion as a down-payment
on the research and development effort that lies ahead.” How
much of that increase will be for defense science and technology
(6.1, 6.2, and 6.3) is unknown.

The rest of the budget will not do as well. When one federal
S&T officer was asked this week what would be a good request,
the answer was for the FY 2002 request to not be below the
current budget.


Richard M .Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3095