The emphasis at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on engineering applications, often with quick turnaround, has led to significant pressure to downsize funding for basic research (6.1 funds) in favor of funds for applications work (6.2 and 6.3 funds). It was reported to the committee that in many cases 6.1 work requires continuous advocacy to be included in agency programs. The effect is exacerbated by the fact that the overall DOD funding for research has been constant or declining in recent years. These funding shifts have a substantial impact in the university community, which tends to focus on longer-term basic research. Nonetheless, these agencies contribute more than $45 million per year to AMO research activity, roughly $30 million of it from DARPA alone. A significant amount of the DOD funding goes to multidisciplinary research under the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. Additional funding to support the purchase of research instrumentation is available to the AMO experimental community through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. Through this program, AFOSR, ARO, and ONR awarded more than $43 million in FY2004.
The information from the DOD agencies supplied to us and reported below was mostly anecdotal. Detailed year-by-year trends were not provided.
AFOSR funding for its Atomic and Molecular Physics Program has stayed mostly flat over the past decade at about $4 million per year. About 70–75 percent of these funds go to universities. The rest is spent at Air Force research labs such as the one at Wright-Patterson. The program’s optical science component is growing and represents about 20 percent of the funding. There is also a separate Optics and Lasers Program that provides about $1.5 million per year for researchers in AMO science. Thus, total funds going to AMO from these two AFOSR programs are about $5.5 million per year. These funds support two MURIs in AMO science at present. There are also AFOSR programs in electro-optics and in nanoelectronics (including work in negative index materials), which are not discussed here.
Average grant sizes in AFOSR core AMO funding are about $125,000 per year for experiment (ranging from about $85,000 to $250,000) and about $100,000 per year for theory. AFOSR staff report that budget pressures have kept grant sizes lower than they should optimally be. Experimental grants could be twice their present size and theoretical ones about 20 percent larger. This would improve research and personnel throughput substantially.