WASHINGTON - Declaring that increasing competition has caused the U.S. leadership in biotechnology to diminish, the Clinton administration last week sent to Congress details of a $4.3 billion "Federal Biotechnology Research Initiative" whose goal is to "sustain and extend U.S. leadership in biotechnology research for the 21st century."

The proposal is nearly 7 percent above the $4 billion initially proposed last year by President Bush's biotech initiative. However, the aggregate amount proposed for federal biotechnology research in the fiscal year beginning in October will remain essentially flat from the $4.27 million Congress actually authorized for 1993.

A 'new focus'

Clifford Gabriel, senior policy analyst at the executive Office of Science and Technology Policy, acknowledged the flat budget over 1993. "These are tight times," he said. But the budgeting process is entering a new phase that "sharpens the focus of