National Association of
and Land Grant Colleges
and the American Association of Universities
Wednesday, March 3, 1999
Welcome, everyone. I'm delighted to be here today among this community that I feel so much a part of, and to see so many familiar faces before me as we come together to discuss the continuing partnership between the federal government and the university science and technology community. I deeply value my roots in that very community, and I look forward to returning to that soil when I finish my government service. In the meantime, I'm honored to have a role in the overall federal budget process and a voice in the dialogue. I'm encouraged by what I see happening today in our joint efforts.
As a vivid illustration of
this point, before I go any further I want to say how pleased I am to be
speaking to you at the very time when the National Science and Technology
Council is approaching the final stages of two long-term efforts to improve
the government-university partnership in America. The NSTC is nearing
release of its report and recommendations on Renewing the Federal Government-University
Research Partnership for the 21st Century. This report, the result
of a study originally urged by the President's Council of Advisors on Science
and Technology, will reaffirm the longstanding cooperative relationship
between the government and U.S. universities and will recommend ways to
strengthen it. We will go forward from here to develop and refine
a statement of principles that will improve the basic government-university
partnership so that, working together, we can continue to provide world-class
educational and research opportunities while producing the next generation
scientists and engineers. As many of you know, the Vice President recently asked me to help develop a new paradigm - and a "New Compact" -- for science and technology's contributions to society. I'll come back to this, but I want to make it clear that if we are to succeed in meeting the Vice President's goal, the relationship between government and our universities must be sustained and nurtured.
At this same moment, the NSTC is nearing final clearance of another long-awaited report, Federal Policy on Research Misconduct: Protecting the Integrity of the Research Record for Federally Funded Research. This report is the result of a multi-year effort to develop a uniform government-wide policy for research misconduct. And I commend the NSTC Principals, committee members, and staff for the excellent job they have done.
Back to the Budget
Funding for science and technology, like funding for education, is a high-leverage investment in our nation's future. Your help last year led to some of the most dramatic increases in the history of the federal S&T enterprise. You can be proud of what you accomplished, and I want to thank all of you for your hard work. I think you all know that this has been a tough year to put a budget together, but I'm pleased with the outcome. If I had to point to one single statistic that is most encouraging, I'd mention that the FY 2000 Budget's (2 percent) increase for R&D support to universities, a rise of $353 million, brings the total increase since 1993 to an impressive 33 percent. This overall rate of increase is especially remarkable given the pressure on domestic spending as the President brought us from a $290 billion deficit in 1993 to a $79 billion surplus in 1999.
You are all well aware of the President's commitment to maintaining our investments in the future through investing in S&T, but let me take just a few minutes to restate some of the R&D budget highlights. I brought some handouts with me that include the R&D chapter from the budget, some snapshots of R&D highlights, and a one-pager.
So I won't attempt to say much about detailed agency budgets, but rather concentrate here on an overview of the S&T budget. Now, as they say, let's do the numbers:
21st Century Research Fund
The FY 2000 Budget includes $38 billion for the 21st Century Research Fund. That's a 3 percent increase over FY 1999. It provides for overall budget stability and for growth in the highest-priority research programs. This year the Research Fund includes Defense basic and applied research programs -- something many of you had called for during the past year, and further evidence of the Administration's commitment to effective integration of the nation's university-based research portfolio.
Within the Research Fund, we have emphasized information technology, environmental research, national security, protecting human health, and the space program. Let me briefly talk about the information technology and health areas.
This year's budget proposes
a bold new initiative: Information Technology for the 21st Century
(IT2), which is funded at $366 million, a 28 percent increase in overall
spending on IT research. This initiative, which the Vice President
rolled out at the AAAS annual meeting in Anaheim on January 24, responds
to the recommendations of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee that we increase support for fundamental long-term research aimed to advance IT.
The IT initiative has been a team effort involving both the White House and other federal agencies, and it's a high priority with both the President and the Vice President. Roughly 60 percent of the funding in IT will go to support university-based research.
The budget also continues the Administration's requested increases for R&D for protecting human health, keeping NIH on track with last year's ambitious goals with a 2 percent increase. I know that some of you are concerned with the NIH funding level, but we should remember that this year's $320 million increase maintains the rate of growth the President set out in last year's budget request. In fact, the President's request is somewhat above last year's projection and represents substantial long-term increases.
The President's overall FY
2000 budget for R&D continues the important trends established early
on by the President and Vice President:
Now, it's crucial that you continue to focus on this last point. The arguments that you helped to articulate last year on the importance of the interdependence of science were, in my opinion, very successful. I highly encourage you to continue to educate members of Congress on the dangers of one field of science falling behind others - or, for that matter, significantly outpacing another. Although Congress provided strong S&T funding last year, it must be stressed that there are a number of factors that will make this year (and perhaps next year as well) especially difficult - from the budget caps, to competing with defense dollars, to proposed trillion-dollar tax cuts. You will have to make your presence felt even more on the Hill to compete for increasingly scarce Federal resources.
I need - and will continue to seek -- your advice on how to make sure we wind up on the right track as we head into the new millennium.
So, putting the FY 2000 budget together has not been easy, and holding it through the appropriations process will not be easy. We still must comply with the discretionary caps that include R&D. To many people, this seems odd, given the budget surplus we are enjoying. But as I'm sure you know, the President is committed to solving the social security and medicare issues first. Until we have a plan agreed to by the Congress, the benefits of the surplus are unavailable for discretionary programs.
But what about after that? Well, listen to what the Vice President said at the end of last month in Anaheim:
"The question today is: Are we going to build on this progress -- are we going to continue to explore every corner of our world and universe -- and also take care to balance our newest discoveries with our oldest values? President Clinton and I answer a resounding "Yes!" Today, I want to suggest a new compact between our scientific community and our government -- one that is based on rigorous support for fundamental science, and also a shared responsibility to shape our breakthroughs into a powerful force for progress."
As you see, the President and the Vice President share a fundamental belief that the government must support investments in science and technology. The political will appears to exist to increase our investments in S&T, but the community has a big role to play in making it happen to help make the call and to help answer some questions: What is the right level for Federal R&D? How much is enough? In which areas, according to what criteria? What are the responsibilities of the researchers, their institutions, the federal agencies? We'll need your help!
The A-110 Issue
Before concluding, I would like to comment on the A-110 issue. There is right now an urgent need for the community to make its views heard. OMB needs to hear from the public and interested parties to understand how the proposals will adversely impact scientific research. Congress may be considering legislation, and it is critical that the scientific community let Congress hear its strong voice.
Finally, I would ask us all
again to remember the need for a unified position and a consistent message
as the President's budget request makes its way through Congress.
Any attempt to work for narrow gain for one area, at the expense of the
overall R&D effort, could backfire in unexpected and unwanted funding
cuts in a
number of areas. Again, I thank you for your own hard work and your many contributions. As we move forward in the budget process and beyond, I look forward to having your help and your support. The President and Vice President very much appreciate what you do.