Computing Research Policy Blog

The Computing Research Association (or CRA) has been involved in shaping public policy of relevance to computing research for more than two decades. More recently the CRA Government Affairs program has enhanced its efforts to help the members of the computing research community contribute to the public debate knowledgeably and effectively.


Coalition for National Security Research Releases Statement on Senate Defense Appropriations Bill


The Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR), a broad-based coalition of 74 members (of which CRA is a member) including industry, research universities and institutes, and scientific and professional associations committed to a strong Defense Science and Technology (S&T) Program, released a statement commending the Senate Appropriations Committee for their work on S. 1558, the Fiscal Year 2016 funding bill for the Department of Defense. CNSR was specifically applauding the committee for their support of Defense S&T at the 6.2 applied and 6.2 advanced research accounts, while also raising concerns about 6.1 basic research funding levels. The statement makes the case that Congress should adhere to the “20/20 Principle,” which calls for investment in basic research to comprise 20 percent of the Defense S&T overall budget and Defense S&T to comprise 20 percent of the RDT&E (or Research, Development, Test and Evaluation) budget. The statement points out that, “the 20/20 Principle is based on the recommendations from the National Academies reports Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2007) and the Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research (2005).”

The Senate bill would provide the following funding for the different defense research accounts:

6.1 Basic Research – $2.31 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $40 million, or 1.7 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($2.28 billion) and $229 million more than what was in the President’s budget request.

6.2 Applied Research – $4.93 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $280 million, or 6.0 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($4.65 billion) and $214 million more than what was in the President’s budget request.

6.3 Advanced Research – $5.58 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $252 million, or 4.7 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($5.33 billion) and $114 million more than what was in the President’s budget request.

DARPA – $2.87 billion for FY16, which is a decrease of $50 million, or -1.7 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($2.92 billion) and $107 million less than what was in the President’s budget request.

The proposed increases in the 6.2 and 6.3 accounts are quite good, as they will keep the budgets above an inflation increase. However, 6.1’s increase will be mitigated somewhat by inflation and DARPA’s decrease will be amplified.

By way of comparison, the House Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 2685), which was passed by the full chamber in May, has the following numbers for the research accounts:

6.1 Basic Research – $2.10 billion for FY16, which is a decrease of $177 million, or -7.8 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($2.28 billion) and $11.5 thousand more than what was in the President’s budget request.

6.2 Applied Research – $4.84 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $190 million, or 4.1 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($4.65 billion) and $124 million more than what was in the President’s budget request.

6.3 Advanced Research – $5.73 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $409 million, or 7.7 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($5.33 billion) and $271 million more than what was in the President’s budget request.

DARPA – $2.97 billion for FY16, which is an increase of $56 million, or 1.9 percent, over what was appropriated for FY15 ($2.92 billion) and is exactly what the President’s budget request is.

As our readers can tell, the House numbers are better for 6.3, only slightly less good for 6.2, better than the Senate for DARPA (though it will just keep ahead of inflation), but is absolutely horrible for 6.1.

The next step in the process for S. 1588 will be to go before the full Senate for consideration. It’s likely to hit a brick wall there, as Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster all spending bills unless their priorities are considered in the budget and the ongoing spending debates. The expectation within the science advocacy community is that this will stall the budget process for the rest of the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to return the Federal budget to regular order (meaning to pass the budget on time), but he has an uphill battle if Democrats stay united on their filibuster. We will continue to monitor the situation and will report any new developments that arise.

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