April 15th, 2013, by Abby Benson  

Week in Review, or FY 2014 Budget – The Sequel

On Wednesday April 10th, the President delivered his FY 2014 budget request to Congress. You may recall that this delivery normally takes place the first week of February, but has been delayed this year due to uncertainties surrounding the “fiscal cliff” deal and sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in back on March 1st. Now that the President’s budget has arrived on the Hill, Congressional appropriators will have one more piece of the puzzle to consider–beyond the FY 2014 House and Senate budget resolutions–when moving forward with the FY 2014 appropriations process. Several assumptions included in the President’s budget request, however, will create significant obstacles to seeing his vision become reality.

The $3.77 billion budget request assumes that sequestration has been turned off, and therefore the FY 2014 top-line spending number does not include cuts required by sequestration. Conveniently, the budget request also makes comparisons with the FY 2012 enacted spending levels, which do not take into account the sequester. The White House was able to do this because technically they have 30 days from the time the final FY 2013 continuing resolution was passed (March 22nd) to calculate the final spending numbers, including cuts from the sequester. The budget also assumes that Congress will consider increased tax revenue and entitlement reform, both very sticky political subjects

Not surprisingly, given the President’s previous budget requests, the budget treats research and development (R&D) very well, with a 9% increase in non-defense R&D from FY 2012 levels. Included in this figure are significant increases to several R&D accounts from FY 2012, including an 8.4% increase to the NSF, a 22% increase to NOAA R&D, and a 75% increase to DHS R&D. NIH funding gets a small bump, but is considered essentially flat, and NASA overall and the Science Mission Directorate within NASA would see a slight decrease.

According to a statement by John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor, at a panel last Wednesday discussing the budget, increases in basic research are made possible by decreases to the “D” side of Defense spending, e.g. weapon systems. The budget also reflects cross-agency priorities previously expressed by the Administration including clean energy, advanced manufacturing, big data, climate change, and cybersecurity. Finally, the budget proposes to reduce duplication in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs by consolidating them from 11 federal agencies into just three (NSF, Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution).

Below I’ve listed top line numbers for several research agencies and provided links to much more detail. You can also read further analysis on the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) R&D program page and for additional highlights per agency, check out Science’s coverage of the budget.

  • Department of Defense (DoD): basic research (known in DoD lingo as “6.1”) would be funded at $2.16 billion, a 7.6% increase from FY 2012. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)–which funds high risk, high reward research–would receive $2.86 billion, an increase of 1.8% from FY 2012.
  • Department of Energy (DOE): basic research at DOE, housed primarily in the Office of Science, would receive $5.15 billion, a 5.7% increase over FY 2012.  The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $379 million, almost a 40% increase over FY2012.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH would receive $31.1 billion, a 1.5% increase over FY 2012.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): The NSF would receive $7.6 billion, 8.4 % above FY 2012.
  • NASA: NASA’s would receive $17.7 billion, a 0.3% decrease from FY 2012. Within NASA, the Science Mission Directorate would receive $5.02 million, a %1 decrease from FY 2012. The relatively new Space Technology Directorate at NASA would receive $743 million, and increase of almost 30% over FY 2012.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)–its competitive research program–would receive $383 million, an almost 40% increase from FY 2012.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Research, Development, and Innovation within the DHS Science and Technology Directorate would receive $467 million, an almost 75% increase from FY 2012.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST would receive $928 million, a 23% increase over FY 2012. The overall Department of Commerce budget also includes $1 billion proposal for National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), similar to last year, an interagency program that would be coordinated by a joint program office housed at NIST.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research within NOAA would receive $472 million for FY2014, a 22% increase from FY 2012.

Meanwhile, we’ve been telling you for weeks how far apart ideologically the FY 2014 House and Senate budget resolutions are. Last week, the Chair of the respective Budget Committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), met to chart a path forward on reconciliation of the two budgets. After the meeting, they announced in a joint statement that “We had a constructive discussion about moving forward under regular order. We recognized the many differences between the House and Senate budget resolutions and the challenge we face in reaching an agreement. We are committed to working to find common ground. We look forward to continuing the conversation as we move toward a conference committee.”

Also of Note

Appointments. The Senate confirmed Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a vote of 87-11 and she was sworn in on April 12th.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced that the former director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Marcia McNutt, will serve as the next editor-in-chief of its flagship journal, Science.

Brookhaven Science Associates, which manages the Brookhaven National Laboratory, announced that Doon Gibbs would serve as the next director. Gibbs has been serving as acting director since the previous director, Sam Aronson, stepped down in December 2012.

Congress. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Republicans released their FY 2014 “Views and Estimates” document, which outlines the committee’s oversight priorities for the year. The document outlines specific topics of interest for NASA, DOE, NIST, NOAA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DHS, and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Education. A group of 26 states, in partnership with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the AAAS, and Achieve has released Next Generation Science Standards. This group worked for two years to “identify science and engineering practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be fully prepared for college, careers and citizenship.”

Energy. The DOE announced that it would continue to fund its three existing Bioenergy Research Centers for another five years. These centers, which are funded at approximately $25 million per year, were established in in 2007 “as an innovative program to accelerate fundamental research breakthroughs toward the development of advanced, next-generation biofuels.”

Health. Science reports on a Rally for Medical Research held in downtown Washington, DC last week. Thousands of patient advocates, survivors, researchers, clinicians, and business leaders participated in the rally, which was emceed by Cokie Roberts of NPR and featured several VIPs from Congress, academia, and industry, as well as an 18-foot tall inflatable microscope!

In an ongoing effort to improve diversity in the biomedical workforce, the NIH announced two new programs supported by the cross-agency Common Fund to “improve biomedical workforce diversity, and foster innovative ways to support the recruitment and retention of individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research.”

The AAAS, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a new report entitled Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research. This report is the latest in a series summarizing joint workshops aimed at helping universities understand and mitigate biosafety and biosecurity risks.

Research.  The NSF released a new report entitled Bringing People Into Focus: How Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Research Addresses National Challenges, which aims to highlight the critical role that SBE research plays in the U.S. research enterprise. This report is likely in response to recent attacks on political science on Capitol Hill, including an amendment in the FY 2013 continuing resolution that would require the NSF Director to certify that political science research funded by the agency promotes national security or economic interests.

The National Science Board, which advises the NSF,  has created a Task Force on Administrative Burden, which recently issued a request for information (RFI) on Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research. This RFI seeks “recommendations from principal investigators for reducing the administrative workload associated with their Federal awards” and adds that “Responses to this RFI will be considered as the Board develops recommendations to ensure investigators’ administrative workload is at an appropriate level.”

Intellectual Property. You may recall that the White House recently issued a memorandum which would require federal research agencies receiving more than $100 million funding to develop a process to make scientific publications based on federal funding research available after a 12-month period. The National Academy announced last week that, at the request of federal agencies, it would hold public planning meetings to discuss implementation of this guidance.

In Print

AAAS released an analysis of the impact sequestration will have on FY 2013 spending, during which the “investment in federal research will reach its lowest point since 2002.”

A group of more than 50 Nobel laureates wrote an open letter to Congress urging them to maintain funding for research, citing concerns for future generations. The letter states “We urge you, even in these financially troubled times, to keep the budgets of the agencies that support science at a level that will keep the pipelines full of the younger generation upon whom our economic vitality will rest in future years.”

David A. Fahrenthold writes in the Washington Post about a recent debate about “silly-sounding science,” where a federally-funded researcher fought back against criticism about her research studying duck genitalia.

Don Troop writes in the Chronicle that Federal Research Cuts Have a Multiplier Effect on U.S. Economy, and explores the impact that sequestration is having on research institutions.

The American Institutes of Physics’ FYI blog has posted a summary of a recent House Science, Space, and Technology Committee subcommittee hearing on performance and management challenges faced by the DOE, EPA, and the Department of Interior (DOI).

What’s on Deck

Tuesday (4/16)

 Wednesday (4/17)

Thursday (4/18)



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