Computing Research Policy Blog

The Computing Research Association (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.

Trends in DOD Basic Research Support


Elaine McCusker of the CNSR and Toby Smith of AAU passed on this interesting slide presentation detailing basic research funding at the Department of Defense by Bob Trew at NC State.
In it, Trew highlights concerns (concerns CRA shares) about “6.1” funding at DOD, primarily:

  • The 6.1 (basic research) budget at DOD continues to decline
  • 6.1 funding is being diverted to non-6.1 projects
  • the research is increasingly near-term; and
  • it’s too often a ready source of funding for “pet projects” in other areas.

Download the presentation (pdf – 779kb)

“This is going to be an austere budget”


President Bush will apparently ask for an increase of just 1 percent overall in non-defense, non-homeland security related discretionary spending for FY 2005. The Washington Times has the details.
Because some programs, like the Administration’s education initiatives, will be slated for increases over 1 percent, other programs will likely receive cuts. Whispers around DC suggest that NSF might suffer significantly under the request, receiving an increase of just 1 percent for FY 2005 — well under the 15 percent authorized by Congress and the President in December 2002. The full details should be known when the President releases his budget request on February 2, 2004.

Northwest Provides Customer Data to NASA


The Washington Post reports that Northwest Airlines provided millions of customer records to NASA shortly after 9/11 to “assist the government’s search for technology to improve aviation security.” The record transfer was revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from EPIC relating to the government’s CAPPS II development efforts.
A similar revelation last year by jetBlue airline helped convince Congress that TIA-related research at DARPA posed too big a threat to American civil liberties to be allowed to continue. (CRN coverage.)

Omnibus Approps Still Stalled


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist warned today that failure to pass the long-delayed $328 billion omnibus FY 2004 appropriations bill will cut off millions in funding for new projects. Here’s coverage in the Washington Post. Failure to pass the legislation would force Congress to pass a “continuing resolution,” Frist says, which would freeze funding for government activities at last year’s spending level.
The bill, already passed in the House, faces opposition from Democrats in the Senate over controversial provisions including overtime pay, country-of-origin labeling for beef, and media consolidation rules.
Tied up in the bill is a $268 million funding increase for the National Science Foundation (5 percent over FY 2003), including a $24 million increase to NSF’s CISE division.
The Senate will return from recess next week.
CRA has more detail on the omnibus in the January 2004 edition of Computing Research News, which can now be found online!

President Announces Missions to Moon and Mars


President Bush wants Americans back to the moon “no later than 2020” and to Mars a decade later, and he’s going to request an increase of $1 billion (or 5 percent) to the NASA budget to make it so. Here’s the official release from the White House.
The total in funding will be $12 billion over five years, with only $1 billion in new funding. In addition, the Space Shuttle fleet will be retired by 2010 and US participation in the International Space Station will be “scaled back.”
No other details on how this change in federal R&D priorities will impact computing research at NASA or any other agency. The Administration has already indicated that NIH, which has received large increases in recent years (doubling its budget over the last five years), will likely receive a 3 percent increase or less in the FY 2005 budget, so perhaps that shift in priority will allow for an increase at NASA while remaining within the Administration’s spending goals.
We should know all after the Feb 1st FY 2005 budget rollout.

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