Making sense of the mass of numbers in the president's budget isn't easy, even for administration officials who have played a role in developing them.

For example, at his news conference held the day the budget was released, presidential science adviser Allan Bromley declared that military spending in the 1993 proposed budget represents only 53 percent of the total R&D budget request. Several articles in the national media cited that number as proof that the Bush administration has shifted its priorities toward applied civilian science.

Actually, that figure is incorrect, says an official in Bromley's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Go with what's in the budget [59 percent]," says the official, who requests anonymity. "That's the right number. We can't figure out where he got the [53 percent] number."

A second example involves the new presidential initiative in biotechnology, one high-tech area in which U.S. industry holds a commanding...

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