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Congress cuts $200M from DOD's university research/lab budgets

Both houses of Congress have approved the $243 billion Defense Department Appropriations legislation, which cut $181 million from university research and $19 million from university laboratories for the federal fiscal year that began October 1.

The $200 million cut was a compromise by a House-Senate conference committee between the House's 50 percent, $900 million cut, and the Senate's five percent, $82 million cut.

John C. Crowley, director of the MIT Washington office, said, "This is a real cut, a serious cut. However, we must acknowledge the strenuous efforts to limit the cuts that were made by the members of the Massachusetts delegation, especially Congressman Joe Moakley, the dean of the house delegation, Congressman Joe Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John Kerry."

The Defense Department funds about 40 percent of the engineering research by American universities.

Dr. Crowley said it was too early to tell the precise impact on MIT, partly because the Army, Navy and Air Force incurred different amounts of the cut, and the Defense Department has not yet had time to set its priorities for implementing the cuts and spending the $1.6 billion appropriated for university research and associated university laboratories. This does not include Lincoln Laboratory, which is funded from a different line item.

Defense officials have told MIT that DOD will try to spread the cuts as broadly as possible. The $200,000,000 reduction was distributed as follows: $13,752,000 in the Army appropriation, $62,245,000 in the Navy appropriation, $18,456,000 in the Air Force appropriation, $86,492,000 in the Defense-wide appropriation, and $19,055,000 associated with university laboratories.

With the encouragement of the Defense Department, the legislation also directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the Congressional defense committees by February 1, 1995, to outline "the actions the Defense Department plans to take to address" concerns about overhead recovery.

The legislation said, "The conferees are concerned about overhead charged by universities to Defense research contracts, particularly the amount that DOD must pay annually to universities for overhead (about $500,000,000) and the variability of overhead rates applied to each institution's research projects."

A version of this article appeared in the October 5, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 7).

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