The federal budget for fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2010 represent the biggest federal investment in R&D in US history, reported the President’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren on 14 May 2009, at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on research and development (R&D) in the federal budget. He also noted that the focus for these two budgets will be on the “research”, rather than the “development” portion of science, reflecting the President’s priorities for more basic, transformative research. The total federal R&D investment in the FY 2010 budget proposal is $147.6 billion. This is a 0.4 percent increase from the FY 2009 budget, and does not include a massive $18.2 billion investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

During the hearing, Holdren was questioned about science in the FY 2010 budget, as well as about the President’s priorities for this R&D budget request. Many of the questions posed by legislators centered on NASA, the energy bill, technology transfer, and biofuel development. Holdren also discussed science diplomacy and commented on scientific integrity. Holdren reported that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is well-aware of the need to act on scientific evidence, even if incomplete. Holdren, who is director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), also stated that his office is aware of the potential boom and bust cycle that could occur as a result of the large infusion of ARRA funds. He said three steps would be taken to insure that such a cycle does not detrimentally affect scientific research. First, OSTP will work to increase baselines for all research programs in the coming years. Second, they are trying to adjust the ARRA such that it funds multi-year grants, which have funds out the door by the time the ARRA authorization ends in September 2010. Finally, a focus on funding infrastructure projects with the stimulus funds will help prevent a boom and bust cycle.

 


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