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SPECIAL UPDATE: President's FY 2004 Budget Request:
NASA, NOAA, Smithsonian & EPA

(Posted 3-31-03)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: Within NASA's total $15.5 billion budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2004, the agency's Earth Science Enterprise would receive $1.55 billion, a 10% cut from FY 2003 appropriations, and the Space Science Enterprise would receive $4.0 billion. NOAA is slated to receive $3.3 billion, up 6%. At the Smithsonian Institution, total funding is up 4% to $567 million, but research funding at the National Museum of Natural History is $43 million, down 3% from what it received in FY 2003. EPA has requested a total of $7.6 billion, down 5% from the agency's FY 2003 appropriation. Within that, EPA is seeking $360 million for its goal of Sound Science.

National Aeronatics and Space Administration (NASA):

NASA has requested $15.5 billion for FY 2004, a slight increase over the agency's congressional appropriation in FY 2003. That much is straightforward, but it has been more difficult to interpret the subdivisions of NASA's budget and compare them to previous levels. In response to accounting mismanagement and years of cost overruns, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has restructured the agency's budget accounting to more accurately reflect the full costs associated with activities. As noted in a statement from the House Science Committee, however, "while these changes may make the budget more revealing over time, they make it extremely difficult to compare the FY 2004 proposal with those from previous years.The problem in making comparisons is exacerbated by the frequent previous changes NASA has made in its budget presentation."

With that preamble, NASA's Earth Science Enterprise - funding the majority of the geoscience-related programs within the agency - has requested $1.55 billion, a decrease of nearly 10% from the FY 2003 appropriation of $1.71 billion. According to NASA budget documents, this decrease is "driven primarily by major development programs that are past their peak development spending and are preparing for launches in 2004 including AURA, Cloudsat, and Calipso." These missions are part of the Earth Observing System satellite constellation. The budget requested $53 million for AURA, which will look at Earth's radiation budget when it launches in January 2004. Just over $16 million was requested for Cloudsat, scheduled to launch in late 2004. This satellite will use millimeter-wave radar to investigate the structure of clouds and improve atmospheric modeling. The last mission of this constellation is the Cloud Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (Calipso) satellite, for which $28 million is requested. It is slated to launch in fall of 2004.

The Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), which supports EOS missions by managing data from research satellites and field measurement programs, providing data archiving, distribution, and information management services, requested $98 million to complete the development of the "end-to-end EOSDIS system." NASA is also requesting $26 million for a new Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) Acceleration project that is outlined as a five-year, $72 million program. According to budget documents, these funds will be used to look at how non-carbon dioxide compounds act as forcing agents in climate change. See below under NOAA for more on the CCRI.

NASA's Space Science Enterprise, which includes planetary exploration, would receive just a hair above $4 billion, up nearly $0.5 billion over FY 2003 appropriations. Under the theme of Solar System Exploration, NASA has requested $1.4 billion for missions to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Jupiter's ice-covered moons, and astrobiology research. Mars Exploration is slated for $570 million to develop a Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005), Scout Mission (2007), Mars Smart Rover/Lander (2009) and a new telecommunications satellite (also 2009).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA is slated to receive $3.3 billion for FY 2004, a 6% increase from last year's appropriation. Within NOAA, the majority of the research is managed by the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which has requested a 2% increase to total $380 million. The National Ocean Service has requested $390 million (down 6%) and the National Weather Service requested $720 million (up 4%).

President Bush is restructuring the federal government's research portfolio for climate change. A major part of that restructuring is the Climate Change Research Initiative, or CCRI. According to budget documents, this initiative is "designed to understand complex climatic systems to improve predictions, and facilitate the effective use of scientific knowledge in policy and management decisions." Congress last year provided just under $18 million in base funding for CCRI, and this year's request jumped 75% to $31 million. Other programs within OAR support the initiative's goals but did not fare as well, for example carbon cycle research, for which $2 million is requested (a 46% decrease). Overall, climate research is up nearly 12% for a total of $185 million.

Smithsonian Institution

The FY 2004 request for the Smithsonian is $567 million, including a new Facilities Capital account. This funding level marks a 4% increase from the FY 2003 appropriation and 9% more than appropriated in FY 2002. Earlier this year, at the request of Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small and the institution's Board of Regents, a specially appointed science commission released a report outlining the role of research within the Smithsonian. The report noted that funding erosion and poor long-term scientific leadership have placed the institution in poor financial standing. Adding to the funding complexities are congressionally mandated increases for targeted programs; the report asserts: "The cannibalization of staff positions to fund these mandated increases must stop." Earlier, the National Research Council released a report with similar findings. The message, however, does not appear to have had a significant impact on the president's FY 2004 request. Smithsonian research at its museums and research centers is funded through the Salaries and Expenses account, which would get $477 million, a 7% increase from last year's allocation. Within that, research funding for all the museums and research centers would receive $60 million. The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) requested $43 million, down 3% from what it received in FY 2003. According to Smithsonian budget documents, NMNH has requested $1.1 million to "conduct focused research programs that are recognized for their quality, relevance, and leadership." The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center would receive a 16% cut to just under $3 million, most of which ($2.3 million) is for research. The Tropical Research Institute requested just over $11 million, a slight decrease.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

In its FY 2004 request, EPA has sought a total of $7.6 billion, down 5% from the agency's FY 2003 appropriation. In response to congressional criticism of how it incorporates science into decisionmaking, EPA has a newly established Science Advisor who, according to budget documents, "will be responsible for ensuring the availability and use of the best science to support Agency policies and decisions, as well as advising the EPA Administrator on science and technology issues and their relationship to the Agency policies, procedures, and decisions." For several years, EPA has outlined its budget according to its goals and mission, making it difficult to separate out the research portion of many programs. With all federal agencies now required to follow EPA's model in order to better coordinate funding with meeting strategic plans and to implement the president's management agenda, this approach may become more widespread, making comparison with congressional appropriations increasingly difficult. Under this approach, EPA has requested $360 million for its goal of Sound Science. The STAR fellowship program, which was marked for elimination in last year's request, is slated for just under $5 million, roughly half the funding Congress provided in FY 2003.

Special update prepared by Margaret A. Baker and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program.

Sources: Agency budget documents, American Institute of Physics, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted March 31, 2003