the last decade to the point that it accounted for over two-thirds of all federally funded R&D, but then it leveled off, and it is now declining. The impact of this reduction on basic research is not clear because basic research accounts for only a small fraction of all defense R&D. Although the present debate concerning the reasons for support of R&D makes this a difficult time for science, it also provides an opportunity to place AMO science appropriately within the context of national needs and priorities. This is an especially good opportunity for AMO science because of its broad economic and societal impact.
Consideration of the relative roles of government and private industry in promoting and supporting long-range R&D is an important component of the national debate. Methods for improving technology transfer and industrial competitiveness, and the roles of individual federal agencies and laboratories in such activities, are being analyzed and discussed. Over the past 30 years, private industry has accounted for an increasing share of all R&D in the country (rising from ~33% in 1960 to ~51% in 1991); much of this increase is in health-related sciences. In AMO science, several industrial laboratories have played important and highly visible roles in basic as well as applied research, but AMO research in these laboratories is now declining. Difficult and uncertain economic times, changing corporate structures and markets, and changing philosophies regarding basic research have resulted in reductions in the amount of long-range R&D carried out in industrial research laboratories, even though much of this work was of high quality and visible. The reductions in R&D activities appear to be broad-based. The 1992 edition of the annual R&D trends survey conducted by the Industrial Research Institute exhibits many indicators of reductions in industrial R&D. The major finding of that survey is that "1993 will see the recession continuing for industrial R&D in the United States." Of the 141 companies responding to the survey, 36% expect decreases in R&D capital spending, while only 20% plan increases; 40% expect decreases in hiring of new graduates, and only 10% plan to increase hiring; and 32% plan decreases in "directed basic research," while only 12% plan increases. The federal government must of necessity carry the major responsibility for supporting basic science, but there are obvious advantages in having active basic science along with applied R&D programs in industrial laboratories to promote links between the science and the technologies that derive from it.
In an environment shaped by increasing concern about federal budget deficits, national priorities must be set and difficult decisions must be made. Setting priorities is a natural and necessary part of any budgeting process. In fields of science where large facilities, such as telescopes or accelerators, are central, formal priority setting is an absolutely necessary and accepted part of the process. In AMO science, where much of the science is done by single investigators or small groups, the pattern has been to let the individual investigators and the peer review process determine the directions of research. The AMO science community believes strongly in an emphasis on individual creativity and in the