Defense S&T officials urge Congress not to cut them disproportionately

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Defense science and technology officials urged lawmakers April 17 not to let budget cuts fall too heavily on their functions.

"We must guard against using S&T as a bill payer, and I'm concerned that S&T will take a disproportionate share of personnel cuts, should we have to reduce manpower," said Marilyn Freeman, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology. She and other officials testified before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

According to Freeman, 48 percent of Army S&T facilities are more than a half-century old. A graph in her written testimony (.pdf), reproduced below, shows that a plurality of still-active facilities were built during the 1940s.

However, while not arguing for budget cuts, Steven Walker, Freeman's Air Force counterpart, told the committee that his service's S&T funding has "been skewed a bit too much toward basic research in the last few years."

When asked about the possible effect of sequestration--due to occur in January 2013, unless Congress intervenes before then to reverse clauses of the Budget Control Act--Zachary Lemnois, assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, said they would be so bad that his office hasn't even yet started to put together a contingency plan.

"It would be absolutely devastating," he said. "Until we get to a point where we understand what the parameters are--we could be looking at pluses and minuses of very large numbers--we simply have not gone through that exercise," he said.

"We're hoping that will be resolved on the Hill," Lemnois added.

For more:
- go to the hearing website (prepared testimonies and webcast available)

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