Last week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich faulted
the Bush Administration’s FY 2002 request for basic science
funding during a hearing on the long-term security of the
United States. Also last week, a report released by the
Defense Science Board stated “the DoD should be requesting
higher levels of funding for the S&T program.”


Gingrich’s observation was one of a series of points he made
on March 21 when testifying at a hearing of the House Armed
Services Committee on the FY 2002 Bush Administration budget
request for the Department of Defense. This hearing centered
on the Hart-Rudman National Security Report Commission report
summarized in FYIs #22 and 23.

Gingrich and former Senator Gary Hart (D-CO), both commission
members, discussed the commission’s latest report. Gingrich
was the lead witness, giving emphatic testimony about the
security threats facing the United States. First on his list
was “homeland security” and the possibility of a weapon of
mass destruction or mass disruption being used on American

He then testified: “Second, the commission unanimously agreed
that the challenge to us in scientific research and in math
and science education is a greater national security problem
than any likely conventional war in the foreseeable future.
And I really want to emphasize this. It’s something Eisenhower
said in the ’50s under the impetus of Sputnik; I think we’re
right back at the same stand. The revolution in science
requires larger investments in basic research; we are not
getting the money today. Second, the inability of the United
States today to produce enough high school graduates who can
do math and science is a long-term national security issue. We
cannot assume that we will be able to import enough people to
meet our science and technology demands for the next
generation. The report’s pretty clear it’s a very major
challenge for us. And I would hope that this committee would
look at the National Science Foundation budget, the NASA
budget, the Department of Energy labs as integral national
security investments over and above the Department of Defense,
but as literally integral to our ability a decade from now to
produce high technology capabilities.”

Gingrich later discussed specific challenges, stating: “there
is a true revolution in scientific affairs, starting with
nanoscale science and technology, quantum mechanics and
physics, and biology, which will swamp the current revolution
in military affairs. And I think it’s very important for this
committee to work with DARPA to understand the basic research
level, and to get briefed by the National Science Foundation
on the scale of the change which is coming, which in my
judgment, after 2-1/2 years of being out of this body and
going out and listening to people, is probably as much change
in the next 25 years as in the entire 20th century. And I would
particularly commend to the committee to go to the Ames NASA
Laboratory and just spend a half day getting briefed on what
they’re doing combining supercomputing, nanoscale science and
technology, and biology, which is, I think, the most
interesting single facility in the United States. It’s at
Moffett Field near Stanford.

“Finally, I think that it’s important for this committee to
look at the service budgets and insist on deep experimentation
now with new technologies. One example. We have a capacity in
remotely piloted vehicle technology which should empower every
ship to know several hundred miles inland what’s going on by
using non-piloted vehicles with very long loiter capability in
a way which just dramatically expands our intelligence

“The services continue to finance the systems that they’re
comfortable with, continue to finance the systems that
maintain the rhythm of the past, and it is very difficult to
get them to push money into these systems. And let me just
say, before anyone starts complaining about the tight budgets,
go back and look at experimentation in the 1930s with budgets
that were literally 15 to 20 times tighter than these budgets.
The system simply has to force itself to set aside a
significant percentage of each annual budget to finance
military-oriented, real experimentation with the technology of
the future.”

Former Speaker Gingrich then called for DARPA funding to be
returned to its former peak constant dollar level, stating:
“Having said that, let me also say that when we talk budgets,
the committee should go back and find out, at its peak in
constant dollars, how much did DARPA have. If you’ll remember,
it was originally called ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects
Agency. It is the base of the Internet. It had vastly more
money in real value 20 years ago, it had more freedom, and it
was more basic research. Over the last 20 years, we’ve
gradually shoved it into basically supporting much more
short-term goals. So part of the budgeting should include
getting DARPA back up to its constant dollar value at its

Gingrich’s remarks then turned to the Bush Administration’s
request in its budget blueprint for basic science funding. He
told the committee: “Let me also say I’ll be writing a letter
to [House Science] Chairman Boehlert making the same point in
terms of basic science. I think it was clearly not correct for
the long-term security of this country to not increase the
basic science funding in the budget that was sent up
recently.” He called on the committee to work with the Bush
Administration on getting “what the amount ought to be” in the
next year’s budget.


A provision in the FY 2000 defense bill required the Defense
Science Board (DSB) to report on the adequacy of DOD’s FY 2001
Science and Technology Program budget requests. The DSB based
their assessment on conclusions drawn in an earlier report.
Their most recent findings and recommendations, dated 1 June
2000, but just released, are as follows:

“In examining trends of the S&T Program funding…it is
evident that the budget requests of FY97 to FY01 have not been
keeping up with inflation much less increasing at 2% over
inflation.” A non-binding sense of the Congress provision in
the FY 2000 law stated that S&T funding should increase 2%
over inflation each year. The DSB calculated that S&T funding
for FY 2001 should have been nearly $10 billion; the actual
appropriation was $9,063 million.

After observing how much U.S. high technology industries spent
on research in 1998, the DSB stated in this latest report: “it
would appear that if the Department of Defense wants to
continue to have a high technology military capability in the
future, the DoD should be requesting higher levels of funding
for the S&T program.”

The report continues: “If the DoD does not pursue a strong
forward looking S&T Program, it runs the danger of ultimately
falling behind potential challengers employing novel
unsymmetrical military challenges.”


Richard M .Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3095