To say that the federal government has a definitive policy in its actions to support university-based scientific research and development would require more justification than was readily discernable from a recent briefing given to representatives of the AAU (American Association of Universities) by geophysicist and presidential science advisor, Frank Press, with a group of executive administrators of various agencies. However, there may be a recognizable trend occurring that is quite evident when the numbers are viewed. Clearly, there is a notable increase in funding for research done outside of the government, and in particular, by scientists in geophysics.
For example, the National Science Foundation's overall request of more than $1 billion came through Congress unscathed for the first time in recent years. NASA's budget faired almost as well, even taking into account the huge and mounting costs of shuttle (but not taking into account future costly delays). Other agencies that appear to have had little budgetary problems with this Congress are the Departments of Defense, Interior, Energy, and Commerce, all of which spend most of their research dollars in house, with larger contractors, or with industry, but nonetheless also support a sizable portion of geophysical research done at universities. Other agencies, such as Agriculture and HUD, did not appear to have suffered serious reductions, although agencies that support biomedical and associated research seemed to have taken the largest cuts. The medical research cuts, however, were made by OMB, and as usual, were reinstated by Congress.