DoD's FY 1996 Human Systems Funding Saved From Accounting Error

Some good news for behavioral science research has actually resulted from the 1996 appropriations process. The Department of Defense (DoD) research and development budget for human systems technology research in the Air Force has been left intact. The human systems research budget, which supported both DoD laboratory research and outside contracts (including university research), was previously found in three separate programs. However, these programs were consolidated into one line in the FY 1996 DoD budget proposal sent to Congress. Unfortunately, many congressional staff persons did not understand that three budget lines had also been consolidated into one. Thus, it appeared to Senate appropriators that DoD was requesting a substantial increase for one of the three (formerly separate) human systems research programs.

The result was a DoD authorization in the Senate that would substantially decrease funds for these research programs. This cut was echoed in the Senate DoD appropriations bill. The appropriators were compelled to respect the "ceiling" on funding, even after they realized that an accounting mistake had occurred.

Fortunately, this mistake was rectified in the appropriations conference between the House and Senate on the FY 1996 defense budget. Although some money was cut, it was much less than that proposed by the Senate, and it should have a minimal effect on the research programs.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Baldwin in the Public Policy Office.

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