For several months the Continental Lithosphere Program (CL) of the National Science Foundation has been subject to a major review. The process was stimulated by a series of budget setbacks over the past few years. Although Presidential budget requests have been very favorable for the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR), and there has been strong support within the National Science Foundation and Congress, actual appropriations by Congress have been disappointing.

In each year the final allocation to EAR has been affected by external factors beyond the control of the Foundation. In the four fiscal years from 1986 through 1989 the factors include reductions tied to the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction measures, congressional reaction to the October 1987 stock market crash, and two years of protection for the Ocean Sciences part of the NSF budget that was paid for from the budgets of the Atmospheric and Earth Sciences divisions.