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President's Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Request (6-24-03)

President George W. Bush released his fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget on February 3, 2003.  At the time of the budget release, Congress had not completed action on the FY 2003 appropriations bills, complicating the reporting of the newest budget request by making it impossible to compare the two budgets. As a result, budget documents released by the administration are in terms of last year's presidential request. While Congress continued to work out the final funding levels, federal agencies were being funded under a series of continuing resolutions at FY 2002 levels. Congress passed a FY2003 budget at the end of February, with $819 billion in total discretionary spending, which includes $123 billion for research and development (R&D). A complete list of budget documents is available at the OMB website, and information on the science and technology aspects of the budget is available at the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) website. The funding comparisons below are primarily based on the final FY2003 appropriations.

Much of the information on the President's FY2004 budget request was originally sent out as an e-mail Special Update to AGI's member societies.

Commerce, State, and Judiciary (NOAA)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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.

NOAA's budget documents are available at

Energy & Water (DOE)

Department of Energy

Office of Science

Total funding for the DOE Office of Science would come to $3.3 billion in the president's request, a small increase from last year's request and essentially flat compared with the FY 2003 allocation. Within the Office of Science, the Basic Energy Sciences programs would receive $1 billion, again flat funding. The Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biological Energy Sciences account is slated to receive $209 million, a slight increase from last year's request and more than allocated in FY 2002. Within that amount, the geoscience funding for university and national lab research is essentially flat. Also within the Office of Science, the Biological and Environmental Research program would receive nearly $500 million, a small increase from last year's request but a decrease of close to 10% from the funding level two years ago.

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Last year's decision by the President and Congress to accept the Yucca Mountain site as the nation's permanent disposal site for high-level nuclear waste, means that the project has moved into its second phase. After more than 20 years and $4 billion in site characterization, funding for Yucca Mountain will now be focused primarily on activities to support the submission of a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The budget request includes $591 million for licensing and program management activities, basically flat from last year's request but an increase of nearly 58% from the allocation two years ago. Within this amount, there is a sizable jump in funding for activities related to waste acceptance, storage, and transportation in anticipation of the repository accepting waste by 2010.

Environmental Management

The Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for managing the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation's nuclear weapons program -- everything from research to testing to production. EM has been under pressure from DOE and Congress to reform its management to result in quicker, more cost effective cleanup of sites. To respond to this request, the EM budget for FY 2004 is outlined in five new appropriations accounts. The total EM request comes to $7.2 billion, a 5% increase from the comparable FY 2003 budget request. The budget request states that this level of funding should provide the resources for EM to work towards its goal to complete cleanup of 89 of the 114 sites by the end of 2006.


Geothermal technology funded under the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is marked for a decrease of nearly 4% from last year's request, to total $25 million. Again, research related to hydrogen has won out over the established programs within this account. In total, EERE has requested $444 million, an increase of 9% from last year's request (nearly all of which is slated for hydrogen technology).

More details on the overall DOE budget request can be found at

Interior & Related Agencies (USGS, DOE-Fossil Fuels, USFS, Smithsonian)

Department of the Interior

Total funding request for the Department of the Interior (DOI) comes to $10.7 billion, a 3% increase from the FY2003 funding level. According to the DOI budget document, this budget "maintains a robust funding level compared with funding levels in relatively recent years for Interior." Among the agency's priorities are water in the West, energy development from federal lands, wildfires, and resource management on public lands.

Funding for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is up just slightly for a total requested level of $171.3 million. The Oil Spill Research Program has requested its first increase in the last couple of years for a total of funding of $7.1 million. This $1 million increase would, according to the budget documents, "begin a four-year phased replacement of equipment and increased operations costs at the National Oil Spill Response Test Facility." MMS is request a total of $164.2 million for the bulk of its work related to royalty and offshore minerals management, which is down slightly from last year's allocation.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has requested $1.7 billion, a 9% cut from last year's allocation. Funding for BLM energy and mineral programs is flat from last year's allocation, giving a total of $106 million for these activities -- a requested $86 million for oil and gas, $10 million for coal, and $10 million for other mineral resources. The funding request for the Alaska Minerals program is down 10% from last year's allocation, for a total of $2.2 million.

The National Parks Service (NPS) is slated for an increase of just under 6%, for a total request of $1.29 billion. Resource stewardship funding within NPs would decrease by 2%, for a total of $335 million. Within this account, the NPS budget document outlines a monitoring program for water quality in the parks and an "inventory and monitoring program for park vital signs".

More information on the DOI budget request is available at

U.S. Geological Survey

Looking at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as a whole, this year's request is much more favorable to the agency than last year's request but still represents a step backward from FY 2002 levels. The total request is $895.5 million, down 2.5% from the FY 2003 level of $919.3 million. Last year's request was hardest on water programs as the administration sought large cuts and transfers to other agencies. This year, the administration has restored most of those cuts.

In all cases, the many increases and decreases described here do not take into account the uncontrollable costs (salaries, maintenance, etc.…) that increase each year and cut into funds available for actual program activities. Only 40% of those uncontrollable costs are covered by the budget request, and the rest must come out of program funds. In addition, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has instituted across-the-board cuts to reform all information technology (IT) activities in the federal government. Science-intensive agencies like USGS take a disproportionate share of such cuts -- the Department of the Interior as a whole faces $66 million total reduction of which the USGS share is $10.4 million (for comparison, the Survey's budget makes up less than 7% of the department's total expenditures).

Geologic Programs

Overall, geologic programs would receive $221.6 million, a 5% decrease from last year's enacted level. In addition to cutting funds for mineral resource assessments and seismic networks as described below, the request also calls for the survey's energy resources program to use existing funds to provide scientific information regarding methane hydrates to the Minerals Management Service.

The biggest hit in the geologic discipline goes to the Mineral Resources Program, which would receive a $9.1 million cut. This reduction is on top of $3.6 million in proposed reductions from the president's FY 2003 request ($1.3 million for studies of aggregates and industrial minerals, $1.5 million for the Alaska data-at-risk project, and $0.8 million for the minerals information team). Together, these cuts represent a total decrease of $12.7 million, or roughly 25%, below FY 2002's level of $55.7 million. As with other programs, such cuts are in addition to the budgetary erosion due to increases in uncontrollable costs. The proposed cuts would eliminate a global mineral resource assessment currently underway as well as geochemical process studies on the effects of toxic materials associated with mineral deposits. Assessment activities for federal and local land managers would be reduced, among other activities.

The other major cut to geologic programs is a $1.9 million decrease for the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS). The program has never come close to the funding levels called for in the last reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). That legislation, signed into law in November 2000, authorized $170 million over five years. The requested cut in this year's budget would eliminate nearly half of the increases that previous budgets had provided toward that lofty goal.

In last year's request, the Cooperative Geological Mapping program was slated for a $6 million cut, but Congress ended up restoring most of this cut to provide $26.05 million. This amount is about $0.5 million less than the FY2002 funding level. This year the program has requested $25.15 million, a cut of a little less than 4% from last year's allocation.

Water Programs

As noted above, the budget request restores most -- but not all -- of the cuts proposed in last year's request. Overall, water programs would receive $200.1 million, still down 3.4% from last year's allocation. The budget does not even mention the Water Resources Research Institutes, which were zeroed out in the president's FY 2003 request and remain zeroed out in this request. These institutes were funded last year at $6 million. Congressionally popular, they are a perennial political football between the White House and Capitol Hill.

The National Water-Quality Assessment program requested $63.8 million, a 1% increase from last year's funding. The Toxic Substances Hydrology program, last year proposed for cutbacks and a transfer of what remained to the National Science Foundation, requested $11 million, still nearly 18% less than what Congress proposed last year. The National Streamflow Information program -- the network of 7,000 streamgages -- requested $14.4 million, a slight increase from the FY2003 funding level.

Mapping Programs

Overall, mapping programs would receive $120.5 million, down 9.6% from last year's allocation. The request would eliminate the Center for Integration of Natural Disaster Information (CINDI), a $1.4 million cut, along with $2.8 million in cuts for "lower-priority mapping research." A $4.4 million cut to the National Map program is supposed to "transition" the program from data collection toward a focus on standard setting. This shift in focus is cited for several other USGS programs as the administration seeks to decrease the Survey's role in data collection and shift toward analysis and dissemination functions.

Biological Programs

Biology is also marked for a small decrease from last year's allocation. Totaling $168.9 million, biology programs would receive increases for research related to invasive species ($4.6 million over FY 2003 request), chronic wasting disease ($1 million), and amphibians ($0.5 million), and $1.3 million for the Science on the Interior Landscape initiative, funding priority research areas identified by sister bureaus.

More information on the DOI budget request is available at

Department of Energy -- Fossil Fuels

The Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) requested a total of $747 million, a decrease of just over 3% from last year's funding level. Within that total, Research and Development (R&D) programs would receive $519 million, a cut of nearly 17% from last year's level. More than 60% of the R&D funding goes to the president's $320 million Coal Research Initiative (CRI), which is predominantly directed at downstream technology. CRI does include $62 million for carbon sequestration R&D, which marks a 54% increase from last year's allocation.

Funding for oil and natural gas R&D combined make up only 8% of the total Fossil Energy R&D budget, a percentage that continues to drop with each new request. Funding for Natural Gas Technologies totals $27 million, an 44% cut from last year. Nearly a quarter of this request goes towards research in hydrogen from natural gas as part of President Bush's FreecomCAR initiative. Also funded through the natural gas account is $3 million for joint research with industry into the potential of gas hydrates as a future energy resource. The funding for hydrates is down 63% from last year, for a total of $3.5 million. The budget proposes to consolidate a number of programs under the Natural Gas Exploration and Production account into a new Sustainable Supply account while cutting 40% from last year's allocation. According to budget documents, this consolidation is in part due to a federal government-wide assessment of programs that encourages management to "phase out programs and activities that are neither productive nor integral to the program's mission and goals."

Simply put, the Oil Technology R&D account is gutted in the president's request. As with natural gas, programs within the Oil Exploration and Production account have been consolidated but with much more dramatic cuts. The total Oil Technology request is $15 million, a 65% cut from last year. Funding for the Oil Exploration and Production account was slashed to a total of $2 million, down 91% from last year's funding level.

Also within the overall FE funding is $16.5 million for the Naval Petroleum & Oil Shale Reserves (NPR). The request zeros out funding for the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center, a research facility for new recovery and remediation technologies located at the Teapot Dome field in Wyoming. The request states that it "does not have a uniquely federal mission and is more appropriately carried out by the private sector."

The FE budget document is available at

U.S. Forest Service

Total funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) would increase by close to 3% from last year's funding level, for a total of $4.1 billion. President Bush outlined his Health Forest Initiative last year. The plan has been adopted by the USFS and several western governors. Instead of making this priority a new line item in the budget, USFS is incorporating the priority into its existing structure. Funding for wildland fire management would increase by 12% from last year's allocation, to total $1.5 billion. Forest and Rangeland research requested flat funding, with a total request of $252 million. The Minerals and Geology Management program requested $54 million, a 3% increase from last year's funding level.

Addition information on the USFS budget request is available at

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.

Labor/HHS & Education

Department of Education

The Department of Education (ED) requested a total of $55.4 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of nearly 9% from last year's funding level. Similar to the last couple of years, the ED program for math and science education for elementary and secondary education is funded through the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program -- there is an identically named program at the National Science Foundation that complements the ED program. As the budget document notes : "This [MSP] program is designed to improve academic achievement in mathematics and science by promoting strong teaching skills for elementary and secondary school teachers. Grants to partnerships of state educational agencies, higher education institutions, and school districts support activities to develop rigorous mathematics and science curricula, distance learning programs, and incentives to recruit college graduates with degrees in math and science into the teaching profession. For 2004, grants will focus on intensive summer institutes for teachers at the elementary and middle-school levels." The funding request for MSP is only $12.5 million, 86% less than last year's allocation and less than the $100 million required by law to provide each state a proportional take in this program. With the MSP allocation less than the $100 million level, it is administered through the National Science Foundation and does not guarantee each state funds. Separate from the MSP program but a tool for math and science educators, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education (ENC) has been zeroed out in this budget request. ENC's elimination is a result of legislation passed in November 2002 that would restructure the old Office of Educational Research and Improvement into the new Institute of Education Sciences.

Additional information on the ED budget is available at

VA/HUD & Independent Agencies (NSF, NASA, EPA)

National Science Foundation

In a year when the federal government's non-defense discretionary spending is set for a modest 4% increase over the previous year's request, NSF would receive a 9% boost to $5.48 billion. Within the total request, $4.1 billion would go to the Research and Related Activities (RRA) account that funds the disciplinary directorates, decrease of just over 1% from last year's allocation, and $938 million would go to Education and Human Resources, an increase of nearly 4% from last year's funding level. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, which funds capital costs associated with large-scale facilities such as telescopes or networked installations, is slated to receive $202 million, an impressive 36% increase from what this account received last year.

While this funding increase over last year's request is sizable, it is less than the amount authorized last year by legislation, signed by President Bush in December, that would put the agency on a budget-doubling track similar to that achieved by the National Institutes of Health over the past five years. When asked about the disparity at the budget briefing, Colwell responded that the FY 2004 budget was already formulated when the doubling legislation was signed into law. She went on the say that the $5.48 billion is still progress towards the legislation's goal.

Geosciences Directorate

The request for the Geosciences Directorate, which includes Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Science Divisions, is complicated by the administration's attempt last year to transfer several programs from other agencies into the directorate. Congress rejected this proposed transfer. Funding for the Geoscience Directorate (GEO) would remain basically flat from the FY2003 appropriation, with a budget request of $688 million. Within GEO, the Earth Sciences Division (EAR) would receive $144 million, Atmospheric Sciences would receive $230 million, and Ocean Sciences would receive $314 million

One trend for GEO is a growing emphasis on Science and Technology Centers (STC), which were initiated in the late 1980s. For GEO, there is a 233% increase for STC -- the budget request specifies three centers including the Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) center based at the University of Arizona and the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) based at the University of Minnesota-- to total $10.7 million. It should be noted, however, that part of the increase in directorate support is due to a transfer of accounting from a general Integrated Activities account in the past to the managing directorate.

Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction Account

At several hearings last year, members of Congress voiced concern over the selection process for projects funded through the MREFC account. In the Senate appropriations process, concerns over the NSF's large-project management structure led to the threat not to release funds for the initiation of EarthScope (the only new MREFC project being funded) until a high-level oversight position was filled (which it has). The impact of this congressional scrutiny can be seen in the budget documents prepared for FY 2004, which include lengthy management and justification sections for all projects -- existing and proposed for future years -- within the MREFC account. Each project has a detailed accounting of how long it will be funded through this account, and how the research directorates will fund associated activities during the project's life span. According to the budget book, EarthScope has a life span of 15 years from its completion, which is planned for FY 2007. At that time, research funding through GEO would grow to $11 million and remain at approximately $13 million for the rest of the project's life span.

The budget documents also clearly state the priorities for MREFC funding in FY 2004. EarthScope is one of seven projects listed as "First Priority." For FY 2004, the $45 million requested for EarthScope in the MREFC account would support three of its components: the United States Seismic Array (USArray), the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), and the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO). This requested second installment is 50% more than the nearly $30 million provided last year.

In addition to the inclusion of EarthScope, the MREFC account has a request of $26 million for the final installment of High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), a high-altitude aircraft used for atmospheric research. Also included in the request is a first payment of Phase I of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) that was originally proposed in the FY 2001 budget but not funded. Geoscience projects listed in the budget for future MREFC support are Scientific Ocean Drilling (beginning in FY 2005) and Ocean Observatories (beginning FY 2006).

Polar Programs

The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) funds research activities, in conjunction with other federal agencies, in the Arctic and Antarctic. OPP is requesting $330 million for FY 2004, an increase of more than 15% from last year's funding level. Of this amount, $262 million will be for the Polar Research Program, with the remaining amount going towards Antarctic Logistical Support Activities. Included in the MREFC account is $96 million for modernization of the South Pole station. This last installment will build upon several years of support to replace the old station that was built nearly 30 years ago.

The NSF budget documents provide a wealth of information regarding the research and education funded by the foundation, including multi-year trends in funding and descriptions of successful past research that is benefiting the nation. The budget documents are available on the web at

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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 above 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).

NASA budget documents are available at

Environmental Protection Agency

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.

EPA's budget documents are available at


Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture supports several programs in soil science, watershed management, and water resources. Most of these programs are funded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which requested a total of $2.66 billion. Within this amount, $40 million would go towards watershed and flood prevention operations, $5 million would go towards watershed surveys and planning activities, $51 million would go towards ground and surface water conservation program, and $250 million would go towards the Wetlands Reserve Program. Also funded through the NRCS is the National Cooperative Soil Survey, which is not a separate line item in the budget request and is a joint ventures between federal, state and local governments. The Agriculture Research Service (ARS) also supports earth science-related programs. ARS requested a total of $1.0 billion, which includes $102 million for soil, water, and atmospheric sciences research.

Additional information on the Department of Agriculture's budget request is available at

Sources: Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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

Contributed by Margaret A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted June 24, 2003

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