Bloch won administration support for the 17 percent increase, from $1.62 billion to nearly $1.9 billion, by arguing that strengthening the university research base is one of the best ways to keep American industry competitive in world markets.
But Sen. William Proxmire (DWis.), who brings a well-honed budget axe to his new post as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that will pass judgment on the Foundation's budget, made it clear that such talk may not be enough. "Although I support the administration's emphasis on economic competitiveness, a 17 percent increase may well be excessive given the current financial climate."
Bloch packaged his request in one of his favorite wrappings—the multidisciplinary research center built upon cooperation among academia, industry and state and local governments. In addition to being a cost-effective way of generating new technology, Bloch has argued, the close working relationships that arise make it easier to apply that knowledge to products that can compete in the world marketplace.
Bloch proposes to spend up to $40 million on an undetermined number of such university-based science and technology centers. He suggested at a press briefing on the budget that they might fall into four broad areas—biology and biotechnology, social and behavioral sciences, computer and information sciences, and materials sciences—but added that some of these areas might generate several centers and others none. The new centers will be selected through a competition similar to those held for the engineering research centers program (still expanding after three years), in which proposals are solicited and judged on the basis of their importance, feasibility and the chance they could become self-supporting after the five-year federal support had ended.
A comparison done by the Foundation of its fiscal year 1983 and 1988 budgets reveals a decided shift in priorities within research activities. Taken together, the mathematics, physical, biological and behavioral and geological sciences consumed 68 percent of the budget in 1983; in 1988, if the proposal is adopted by Congress, they will receive 60 percent of the budget. At the same time, computer and information sciences and educational activities received 5 percent of the budget in 1983 and expect to receive nearly 14 percent in 1988.
Top Staff to Get Raises
WASHINGTON—Thcked into the budget that President Reagan submitted January 5 was a pay raise for several thousand top federal officials.
The proposal is good news for several top science advisers. NSF Director Erich Bloch and White House science adviser William Graham would receive $89,500— $14.400 more than they were earning just last month. On January 1 both men received the 3 percent pay raise that went to all federal employees, boosting their salaries from $75,100 to S77.400. Bloch's deputy. John Moore. would receive $82.500—$8,900 more than he was earning last month and $6,700 more than the $75,800 he was given on January 1.
As a commissioned officer within the Public Health Service, NIH Director James Wyngaarden does not qualify for higher pay under the proposal. But his total salary rose January 1 from $84,032 to $86,144. His deputy, William Raub, a member of the elite Senior Executive Service, can expect a boost to $75,500 if the pay proposal is adopted. That would follow on the heels of the 3 percent raise that put him at $72,500.