these amounts, and therefore they were slow in dispersing the research funds. Additionally, because of disruptions in the congressional budget process (including governmental “shutdowns”), funds became available very late in 1997. These two forces resulted in relatively slow allocation of initial CESI funds to researchers, even though construction activity was moving forward and needed information from research projects.
The history of congressionally appropriated funds for the CESI program shows that there has been a decline of funding over recent years (Table 4–1). After the first year, the program reached its peak funding level of $12 million for FY 1998 and 1999, followed by large reductions in funding in FY 2000 and again in FY 2002, leading to the present level of funding of $4 million per year. These reductions in funding came at a time when the demand for scientific results to provide guidance for planning and construction in the restoration efforts was increasing.
The reductions in funding for the CESI program shown in Table 4–1 resulted from declining budgetary requests to Congress. The CESI funding requests were decreased for four reasons (DOI, 2002). First, the CESI program had been slow in spending its initial infusions of funding. The reasons outlined above were not obvious to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or DOI budget managers, and they were concerned that the CESI program simply could not manage a larger flow of funding. Second, there were serious concerns about the strategy and effectiveness of the CESI program. OMB managers wanted to see clearly defined linkages between money spent and useful, measurable scientific out-comes—an exercise that is always difficult for science. Many ecological research projects require years of data collection, and the restoration benefits derived from this critical information were likely to be at least a decade away. Third, funding tradeoffs occurred within DOI to provide additional funds for activities related to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), including land acquisition and staffing needs, by subtracting funds from the CESI program. Land acquisition was an attractive magnet for funding, because it involved matching funds from the state of Florida. Finally, DOI continually balances competing requests for other projects completely outside the issue of Everglades restoration with requests for CESI funds. Political and economic pressures provide potent forces that enter this process at all levels. By considering these four issues in future budget requests, CESI managers may be able to compete more effectively for research funding within DOI.
All of the funding associated with the CESI program does not go for direct support of scientific research (Figure 4–1). As with most research, a portion is relegated to administration of research personnel and resources. For the CESI program, this portion is relatively low—only 6 percent of total costs for 1997– 2002. These funds are used to support the position of the CESI coordinator and to fund CESI administrative expenses. Additional nonresearch expenditures include $1.7 million in CESI funds that were reprogrammed in FY 2001 to address CERP-related needs within DOI. These reprogrammed CESI funds were