Smithsonian Budget Renovates Buildings, Cuts Programs, Staff

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The Smithsonian Institution is seeking to increase its budget by nearly $40 million next year while closing several research programs and cutting 180 positions in order to renovate dilapidated buildings.

"[W]e had to make some difficult decisions in order to move forward with our plans to revitalize this institution," Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small said in a letter to employees yesterday.

The Smithsonian yesterday announced at a press conference that it has requested $494 million from Congress for its fiscal 2002 budget, a 9 percent increase over its current $454 million budget. The Bush administration also calls for $494 million for the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian is about 70 percent federally funded; its remaining funds come from private and corporate contributions, as well as revenues.

Mr. Small's proposed cutbacks include closing the 3,150-acre Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va., at the end of the year. The facility has served the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park since 1975 as a laboratory and field station for conservation and research.

Many of the animals studied there will be given new homes at other zoos.

The center was closed in favor of relocating some of its services at the National Zoo in the District.

Of the $5.2 million that has been spent on the center annually, $2.7 million will go to conservation and research at the zoo and the rest to other research, said Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas.

Reassignments and early retirement will be available to some of the workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the closing, Ms. …