generate electric power, though nuclear energy R&D was slated for a substantial budget reduction in the Administration’s budget proposal. This policy shift suggests that Congress should review the Administration’s proposed spending on the range of science and technology programs from nuclear energy R&D to sustainable energy R&D at the Department of Energy to determine if it is sufficient for both meeting national goals for energy security and the Administration’s energy program. Similarly, the Administration has begun a re-examination of our nation’s policies with regard to global climate change. Our ability to understand the phenomenon of global climate change is critical to forming policy in this area. Congress should fund scientific research at a level that would allow it to provide that understanding at this time of policy review and reformulation.21

Science and technology investments across the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering have enabled much of the innovation that has been the source of our recent, sustained economic growth and are, therefore, critical to also addressing national economic goals. Research has continually led to promising commercial opportunities throughout the last 50 years. One of the key reasons for sustaining global leadership in science and technology is to generate further such opportunities and sustain economic growth and global competitiveness as well as meet our goals in national security, energy, the environment, and health.

Since we cannot predict which investments made today in science and technology will result in the key technologies and innovations of the future, this suggests a pattern of broadly supporting science and technology across fields, particularly in the area of basic research where the federal government plays a central funding role. In this regard, differing growth rates in FS&T investments across agencies and fields of science and engineering are of concern, particularly since FS&T in agencies other than NIH would fall below their FY 1994 level under the Administration’s budget proposal. The Administration and Congress should examine spending plans carefully to ensure that the federal government is investing adequately not only in biomedical research, but in other areas that generate technological innovation such as information technology research, materials science, nuclear physics, or nanoscale science and technology.

A sense of our national goals and the role that a vital science and technology enterprise can play in addressing those goals in the short run and meeting them in the long run can provide a basis for evaluating the adequacy of agency spending on science and technology research. The Administration and Congress should pay attention to the long-run health of the science and engineering enterprise and its ability to help meet our national goals, particularly as they may shift in the future. In this latter regard, much greater attention needs to be given to the impact of budget reductions in agencies other than NIH on both research and human resources across science and engineering fields.22

While there are many indicators of productivity, it is worth noting, as one example, that while federal funding for physics research at our nation’s universities decreased by more than one-fifth from 1993 to 1997, the number of article submissions by U.S. researchers to Physical

21  

See footnote 5 on page 3 for details of these three program and policy reviews.

22  

National Research Council, Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, July 2001) provides an in-depth statistical review of how trends in federal funding affect both research and graduate enrollment by field of science and engineering.



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