Computing Research Policy Blog

Enlightening Comments from DOD Comptroller

Thanks to Tom Jones of CNSR for pointing this out:

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Dr. Dov Zakheim
Friday, January 30, 2004 – 9:00 a.m. EST
Q: Why don’t you invest more in S&T? I looked in the R1 books and each
of the three components —
Briefer: Glad you had them, huh?
Q: Yes, they were helpful.
Briefer: No thanks to me, I can tell you that.
Q: They dropped down, the amount dropped down in all three categories of S&T for all the services with the exception of basic research for the Air Force. So you’ve seen a real drop.
Briefer: Not at all. Why do you say that? A drop relative to what? To the enacted?
Q: Yes.
Briefer: Of course, because the enacted always is higher than what’s in the requested and we always compare it to our requested. The reason is that a lot of what’s enacted are things that the Congress believes are important for us to do research in but we don’t necessarily share that same assessment.
Q: Are you meeting the three percent large goal that’s —
Briefer: No, because I don’t think it’s relevant any more. Three
percent might have been relevant but first of all we never met it. We were at 2.69 percent, now we’re going to go down to 2.62 percent. But the real question is, is that really a meaningful measure when you’re at a budget of $400 billion? That means we’re approximately $100 billion over where we were three years ago. Does that mean that we necessarily must throw $3 billion at universities and so on? There’s an argument for putting more money in but there’s not a knee-jerk argument percentage wise that says well, you increased $100 billion because you’re fighting a war in Iraq and you’re modernizing, you’re transforming, you’re doing this, that and the other. I need my three percent bite. It just doesn’t work.
I think what you’re finding here is by having $1.3 billion in basic research you’re putting an awful lot of money into universities, into labs, into research centers, and you don’t know if anything’s going to come out in military terms because that’s what basic research is all about. The same to some extent with applied research. And I would even argue the same to some extent with exploratory development. There’s a lot of money going into this and I don’t think three percent’s the relevant measure.
I am going to have to stop here. I apologize for not being able to walk you through the rest of the slides, but I am sure that my colleagues both in the services and OSD will help you out.

Some NSF Budget Info

Still parsing the numbers, but here’s a more detailed look at NSF

    Research and Related Activities (includes CISE) – $4.45 B; up from $4.25 B in FY04; increase of 4.7 percent.
    Education and Human Resources – $772 M; down from $939 M in FY04; decrease of 18 percent*
    Major Research Equipment – $213 M; up from $155 M; up 37 percent.
    Salaries and Expenses – $294 M; up from $219 M in FY04; increase of 34 percent
    NSB – $4 M; same as FY04
    Inspector General – $10 M; same as FY04.

Overall – $5.745 Billion; an increase of 3 percent over FY04
Highlights – $761 million for NSF’s lead role in NITRD, $305 million for National Nanotech Initiative, and $210 million for climate change science. Five priority areas: Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Biocomplexity in the Environment; Mathematical Sciences; Human and Social Dynamics; and Workforce for the 21st Century. The ITR initiative, one of four NSF programs rated “effective” (the highest designation) by OMB, ends in FY04 and program funds will revert to “NSF’s fundamental science and engineering core in 2005.”
CISE would grow to $618 million in FY05, an increase of 2.2% or $13 million over FY 04.
* The bulk of the decline in EHR is apparently the result of the Administration moving most of the Math and Science Partnerships Program to the Department of Ed.

Science Chairman Responds to Budget

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert’s statement: “I am very disappointed in the proposed science budget, and I will be working with the Administration and my Congressional colleagues to improve the numbers as we move through the budget process. I understand that we are in a very tight fiscal situation and that the Administration has tried to treat research and development (R&D) as favorably as possible. But we just have to find a way to do better. …

Read more

A Quick Look at the FY 05 Budget

A word? Disappointing. Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2005 Here’s a quick breakdown before I run off to the various Agency budget briefings:


  • NSF – $761 M; +$7 M over FY04; increase of 1%
  • HHS (primarily NIH) – $371 M, +$3M over FY04; increase of 1%
  • DOE – $354 M; +$10 M over FY04; increase of 3%
  • NASA – $259 M; -$16 M below FY04; decrease of 6%
  • DOD – $226 M; -$26 M below FY 04; decrease of 10%
  • Commerce (includes NIST and NOAA) – $33 M; +$7 M over FY04; increase of 27%
  • EPA – $4 M; unchanged from FY04

More details to come…

IP issues

The National Academies’ IP Website and Quarterly Newsletter
For a round-up of the intellectual property issue-related current
projects at the National Academies, visit The site
publishes a quarterly e-newsletter which is archived at The current newsletter is at

IT and Productivity

“Software, Growth, and the Future of the U.S. Economy”
A symposium in the series “Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy,”
February 20, 2004, The National Academies, Keck Center, 500 5th Street,
NW, Room 100, Washington, DC. Industry representatives from leading
companies such as Google, Apple, General Motors, and Jet Blue, and
academic experts will participate in a high-level discussion of the role
of software and its importance to U.S. productivity growth; how software
is made and why it is unique; the measurement of software in national
and business accounts; the implications of the movement of software
industry jobs offshore; and related policy issues. Contact David
Dierksheide at for information.

Visa requirements for students

New procedures on Social Security Numbers for foreign students and visitors announced by Department of Homeland Security: In late December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memo and fact sheet advising colleges and universities how to ensure foreign students and visitors obtain a Social Security number. As the AAU summarizes, the policy requires that foreign students and visitors first report to the school, where institute officials will register the students with the Student Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS). After a student has been active in the SEVIS system for 48 hours, the individual may apply for a Social Security number. The Department of Homeland Security has made an agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to have DHS verify the SEVIS information on behalf of SSA. This new procedure aims to speed the process of obtaining a Social Security number by foreign students.
(taken from Georgia Tech Office of Federal Relations)

More Rumors on Rita Colwell’s Departure from NSF

Science News has more detail on the rumors surrounding Rita Colwell’s imminent departure as director of NSF. Maybe most interestingly, they suggest Arden Bement, currently head of NIST, would take over NSF as interim director. Here’s a bit of the scoop:

Rumors were circulating in Washington, D.C., last week that Colwell planned to announce her departure as early as this week, shortly before the president’s 2005 budget is unveiled, and that it was tied to her frustration with a succession of stingy White House budget requests for the agency. Arden Bement, the current director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was said to have accepted the job as interim NSF director and was preparing to testify in that capacity at an 11 February hearing of the House Science Committee.
But those rumors appear to have been wrong. Science Committee staff say Colwell accepted their invitation in late December and hasn’t notified them of any change of plans. NIST spokesperson Matthew Heyman says that Bement “doesn’t have 11 February on his calendar.” And NSF’s William Noxon says that Colwell plans to both unveil the president’s 2005 budget for NSF on 2 February and represent NSF at the committee hearing. Last week Colwell told Science that she was not leaving anytime soon.

Our best info is that some members of Congress were given the “head’s up” last week that Colwell planned to resign in as soon as two weeks. Colwell’s six year term as director expires this August.

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