Alaska’s R&D Programs Face Unprecedented Cuts Under Proposed Federal Budget Plans

Alaska’s dependence upon federal funding for research may be significantly impacted under proposed reductions to federal R&D programs, according to a new report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The report, The Future of Science and Technology in Alaska: Trends and Indicators, points out that science and technology play a vital role in the Alaskan economy, providing critical support to the state’s fishing and resource industries. According to the report, federal funds account for nearly three-quarters of Alaska’s R&D, while industry and universities and colleges each provide about 13 percent of the total. Nationally, industry is the principal source of R&D funding (about 60 percent), with the federal government providing just over one-third of the total.

The latest budget proposals from the Administration and Congress call for reductions between 19 and 23 percent to nondefense R&D programs in an effort to reduce the deficit by 2002. According to the report, the nation’s research efforts may become a casualty of the budget wars.

Research at Alaska’s colleges and universities may be particularly hard-hit under federal funding plans. The University of Alaska Fairbanks receives 90 percent of the state’s federal funding for academic R&D. Federal R&D funding to Alaska universities and colleges amounted to $35.8 million in FY 1994. The report indicates that the consequences for the future of Alaska’s R&D institutions, its economy, and its environment could be profound if the budget cuts are implemented.

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