The budget restrictions imposed by the deficit-reducing Gramm-Rudman Act would devastate University of Utah research money, but U. officials aren't as worried about that likelihood as they are about other potential budget restrictions on research dollars.
U. Vice President James J. Brophy told the U. Institutional Council Monday that researchers with National Science Foundation money have received letters saying that they could lose up to 50 percent of their research dollars if Gramm-Rudman goes into effect.The dollar loss to those researchers, plus to other U. scholars who receive federal research money, means the U. could see a $50 million cut of the $100 million that it receives in federal research grants, Brophy said.
In addition, U. President Chase N. Peterson reported that the U. would lose $6 million in student aid next year under Gramm-Rudman.
Enacted in 1985, Gramm-Rudman aims to reduce the national deficit. If Congress and the administration fail to reach a budget agreement that controls deficit spending, the law's enforcement mechanism, called "sequestration," kicks in.
Brophy, who is closely monitoring Congress' actions, said he is fairly "optimistic" that the U. won't see a 50 percent loss. "I'm optimistic because if it happens to the U. of U., the same thing will happen to all research universities across the nation. That would be a $100 billion cut. I can't believe Congress would let that stand," he said.
However, U. research could also suffer if a "continuing resolution," a temporary measure to let the federal government operate under last year's budget until a permanent new accord is reached, remains in effect for very long.
Brophy said a "continuing resolution" could prevent the start-up of any new research or expansion of existing ones.
Three major U. projects that would be affected under this scenario are the expansion of the Fly's Eye, research into cosmic rays conducted at the U.'s Dugway Proving Ground facility; a new National Science Foundation-sponsored science-in-technology center on computer graphics (the U.'s one of five U.S. universities to be designated); and expansion in DNA research.