Although science funding held its own in the 1997 budget bills recently signed by President Clinton, the long-term view is gloomier. Congress and the Clinton Administration both are calling for sharp reductions--as much as 30%--in civilian R&D during the next few years. Would such cuts rend the very fabric of science? Top science policy experts disagree on the consequences, as reflected in these soundbites from the 50th annual meeting of the National Conference on the Advancement of Research that ended yesterday in Baltimore:
``The kind of cuts being talked about destroy institutions. ... We can't take 20% to 30% hits without fundamentally changing our institutions.''
interim president, National Academy of Engineering
``When it comes to a 25% cut, I'm not sure that would be catastrophic. The University of Maryland lost 20% of its state support over 3 years. It was not pleasant, but we survived. In fact, our institution is stronger, leaner, and performs better. ... I would not consider a 25% cut a mortal blow.''
chancellor, University of Maryland