[Published originally in the March 2002 edition of Computing Research News, pp. 1, 15]
President Requests Slight Increase for IT R&D Funding
By Peter Harsha
Federal funding for information technology research and development would increase only slightly next year under the President's FY 2003 budget plan announced February 4, 2002.
The President's budget request calls for an increase in funding of 3 percent over the Administration's FY 2002 request for IT-related research at the seven federal agencies that form the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) initiative.
Among the participating agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) received the largest increase--$32 million in new funding, bringing it to a total of $213 million--in the Administration's plan. However, the National Science Foundation, which will provide 78 percent of all federal computing research funding this year, would continue to play the lead role among NITRD agencies, according to the request. NSF would spend $678 million overall in the President's plan.
Funding would increase in NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate to $527 million, up from $515 million approved by Congress for FY 2002, and significantly above the $470 million requested by the President in last year's budget. NSF's cross-disciplinary information technology research (ITR) priority area would also see an increase under the new plan, growing to $191 million in FY 03 from $174 million in FY 02.
The President's budget also calls for a slight increase in IT R&D at the Department of Energy (DOE), the second largest source of federal NITRD funding. DOE's NITRD-related activities would grow to $313 million in FY 03, an increase of just $1 million over last year's request.
For the first time in a budget request, DOE research was evaluated using "Performance Criteria for Applied Research" developed by the President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in consultation with DOE and the scientific community. These performance criteria, used on a "pilot" basis and only at DOE for the FY 03 budget, helped "shape the budget request" for DOE, according to OMB staff.
OMB intends to use the performance criteria more broadly in the FY 04 budget cycle, applying them to all funding for applied research at federal agencies. OMB will also work this year to develop similar performance criteria for basic research in time to "pilot" their application to programs in the FY 04 budget, with the hope of applying the criteria government-wide to basic research programs beginning in FY 05.
The Department of Defense (DOD) would see a decrease in NITRD funding under the President's plan. The budget calls for a decrease of $14 million over the FY 02 approved level for NITRD-related funding at DOD. Total NITRD funding at DOD would top $306 million for FY 03. Offsetting the overall DOD decrease is a 14 percent increase over the FY 02 request for IT R&D at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Administration's request is $60 million more than the amount approved in FY 02.
NITRD-related programs at Health and Human Services (HHS) would receive an increase in IT research funding to $336 million from $310 million approved last year. The Department of Commerce (DOC) NITRD programs would decrease to $42 million from $43 million approved last year; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would receive $2 million, the same amount it received in FY 02.
A more detailed look at each agency's NITRD-related request can be found on the CRA Government Affairs website. [http://www.cra.org/govaffairs]
budget submission marks the start of the annual budget debate on Capitol Hill
and sets into motion the year-long appropriations process. The budget now goes
to Congress, where it will be considered (or not) by the various budget, authorization,
and appropriations committees who will, with the President's assent, ultimately
determine the final funding levels next fall.
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