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Update on FY2003 Commerce -- NOAA (8-5-02)

The fiscal year (FY) 2003 Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies (Commerce) Appropriations bill provides federal funding for the geoscience-related programs at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). The president's budget request included $3.2 billion in discretionary spending for NOAA, which included a proposal to transfer the National Sea Grant program ($62 million) to the National Science Foundation. Key programs within NOAA for the geosciences include the Oceanic & Atmospheric Research program and the National Weather Service. 

Most Recent Action
On July 18th, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed S. 2778, the Commerce appropriations bill, out of committee. According to the press release, the recommended $3.35 billion for NOAA would be $88.5 million more than last year's funding level. Due to the agency's method of incorporating the administration's proposal to transfer the accounting for employee retirement to the individual agencies and the recent budget restructure, comparisons between the recommendation, the request, and last year's allocation are at times difficult. That said, the committee's recommendation would not support either the administration's new accounting system or the proposal to transfer the National Sea Grant College program to the National Science Foundation. Instead, the committee provides that program with $63.4 million, $1.0 million more than last year's allocation. The Senate bill also does not fund the administration's Climate Change Research Initiative,for which the president had requested $18 million. Report language refers to the initiative as ". . .an ill-defined program established through the political process." NOAA line items: the National Ocean Service would receive $403.5 million (up more than 6% from last year), Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would receive $395.7 million (up 36%), the National Weather Service would receive $682 million (essentially the same as last year's allocation), and National Environmental Satellite and Data Information Services (NESDIS) would receive $133.8 million (down a little more than 8%). Additional information is available below. (8/2/02)


 House Action   Senate Action    Conference Action 

Senate Action
The Senate Appropriations Committee completed action on S. 2778, the FY 2003 Commerce Appropriations bill, on July 18th and filed its report (S. Rept. 107-218) a few days later. The Senate would provide $3.35 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is an increase of 6% above the request and nearly 3% more than last year's allocation. Funding for NOAA's divisions was mixed, with only the NESDID receiving a sizable cut.

Total funding for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) would come to $395.7 million, an impressive increase of close to 36% above the request and 11% above last year's allocation. Both the National Sea Grant College program and climate change research are funded under OAR. Report language for the Sea Grant program states:

Through its budget request, the administration slated the National Sea Grant College Program for termination under NOAA and reconstitution under the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Committee does not support this ill-conceived notion. Instead, the Committee recommends a total appropriation of $63,410,000 for Sea Grant. Under the NSF, Sea Grant would lose its State matching requirement and it would lack authorization to continue its successful Extension Program. The Sea Grant program has a long-standing commitment to problem-oriented scientific research and education that responds to the needs of industry, government, resource managers, university scientists, and the broader public. The outreach and technology transfer services of the Seat Grant program have improved science-based fisheries management, pollution remediation, seafood safety, marine safety and marine engineering. The Committee is concerned that NSF, with its tradition of funding basic science, will be less responsive to the research agenda successfully developed by Sea Grant.

President Bush announced his plan for the Climate Change Research Intitiative (CCRI) in February 2002. The committee recommended not to fund the requested $18 million for CCRI, explaining that they do recommend increasing funding for climate change research but believe that any increase should be through the existing structure of the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP):

Climate Change Research Initiative.—The Committee does not recommend $18,000,000 as requested, for the Climate Change Research Initiative. The Committee has reviewed this initiative and has concluded that it is an ill-defined program established through the political process. The Committee has, for many years, supported robust funding for the Climate and Global Change Program and activities under Climate Observations and Services. The Committee is concerned that the administration’s proposed increases for Climate Change Research are not provided under the Global Change Research Program, but under a separate Climate Change Research Initiative not related to the research program being conducted pursuant to the coordinated Federal process established by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The Committee supports increased funding for global climate change but believes that the funding should be provided to NOAA for research priorities established under the U.S. Global Climate Research Program decision making structure. The Committee has provided $159,201,000 for climate research. This funding level does not include funds appropriated for climate research elsewhere within NOAA’s budget.

In other OAR news, the committee would recommend $57.4 million for weather and air quality research activities, a slight increase from the request and just over 3% more than last year. The Ocean Exploration line item would receive an increase of nearly 42% above both the request and last year's funding level.

National Ocean Service (NOS) would receive a total of $403.5 million, which is a 6.6% increase from the request and 2.5% less than what the division received last year. Ocean and Coastal Zone Management activities would receive a total of $127.5 million, which is a decrease of more than 8% from both the request and last year's allocation. The Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment account, which funds Coastal Ocean Science activities ($20.6 million; up nearly 11% from the request and down nearly 5% from last year) and Oceanic and Coastal Research activities ($14.6 million; up 45% from both the request and last year), would receive a total of $150.8 million, a 25% increase from the request and a decrease of just under 3% from last year's funding level. The Geodesy account would receive an increase of 8% above the request and almost 6% above last year's level to total $26.5 million.

Funding for the National Weather Service (NWS) would increase slightly above the request and 1.4% above last year's level to total $682 million. The Local Warnings and Forecasts account would decrease from the request by 2.5% to receive $531.6 million, basically the same funding as last year. The Advanced Hydrological Prediction Services had requested a massive increase from $1.5 million last year to almost $6.1 million, but the committee recommended $4.5 million.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) would receive a total of $133.8 million a decrease from both the request (-8.6%) and last year's allocation (-6%).



Sources: E&E News Publications, House Appropriations Committee, Library of Congress, NOAA, National Council for Science and the Environemnt, and the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Margaret A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs, and Heather Golding, AGI/AAPG Spring 2002 Semester Intern.

Posted August 5, 2002


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