Director of science agency foresees more budget cuts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) got slapped with a 3 percent budget cut in fiscal 2005 and is expected to face tight times again in the president's fiscal 2006 budget request due out next month, leaving new foundation director Arden Bement searching for ways to make the most of his lot.

The final fiscal 2005 budget "indicates that we're in a very difficult budget climate and that the administration puts a very high priority on reducing the budget deficit, and that's going to affect our programs in the discretionary budget, including research," Bement said in a Monday interview at NSF's Arlington, Va., headquarters. "On top of that, we're going to have to take a realistic view of the budget climate in setting our goals for the near term."

"Of course, my hope is that we'll continue to grow," he added, "but not at the rate expected under the Investing in America's Future Act of 2002," which authorized a doubling of NSF appropriations from fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2005.

Bement said he is working to stress to budgeters "the importance of investing in the future and the strong linkage between science investment, economic development and job creation if we're going to maintain our own."

The key to raising NSF's budgetary fortunes, he said, is to "convince the various science communities that they have to speak with one voice." Those communities include fields such as biology, engineering and math.

"They only weaken their case when they take a parochial point of view," Bement said. "It's important that the case we make is that science across the board is an investment priority and can lead to not only short-term benefits but longer-term benefits for the nation."

Bement noted that a nation with low savings levels such as the United States relies on investments in education and in research and development to stay ahead of its global competitors.

He said national priorities for research are set by the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget, and that NSF follows those priorities.

"You'll find activities throughout our whole program reflecting those priorities," he said, pointing to homeland security R&D, nanotechnology, networking and information technology R&D, water resources and climate change, and "extreme events" like tsunamis and earthquakes.

"These are very strong [Bush] administration priorities, and NSF is a key player," he said. "Anything we can do to link our university research programs to the challenges facing the nation will enhance our chances for budget success."

Bement said most research agencies were involved in security-type activities before the Homeland Security Department was created. He said the department is mainly focused on obtaining existing technologies for the short term, and said he has been told by Homeland Security science and technology directorate chief Charles McQueary that even in the future, the department will depend on other agencies for long-term research.

Bement also said NSF's percent change in funding only lags agencies that are "more mission-oriented, addressing priorities such as the war on terrorism [and] homeland security."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.