FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

IT, R&D Winners in Bush 2006 Budget

President Bush's proposed budget for 2006 attempts to address the current huge deficits with cuts to dozens of federal programs. Information technology, however, is not only spared but gets an increase.

The 2006 budget grants IT initiatives $65.1 billion, or a 7% increase over last year's spending. Defense, Homeland Security and the National Science Foundation -- whose budget has been increased by 26% -- will receive the bulk of this increase. In addition, the buddget proposes to make the R&D tax credit permanent. The tax credit was initiatied in 1981 as a temporary measure, but has been continually renewed.

However, other science and technology spending would drop by nearly $1 billion, reducing funds for space exploration, agriculture research and alternative energy development. The budget also proposes to eliminate the Advanced Technology Program, designed to assist the private sector in "high-risk, high-payoff" technological development. Critics of the cut argue that the Advanced Technology Program, though relatively small, is an effective initiative that should be spared.

Of course, all this could be rendered moot once Congress, lobbyists and "special interests" start to sink their teeth into the budget. The final product will likely be quite different from the White House's original proposal.

UPDATE: One science loser in the White House budget is the National Institutes of Health, along with other health services. While NIH is tagged for a budget increase, that increase (0.7%) does not keep up with inflation.

Source: Computerworld