*Numbers reflect funding levels recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committees in the 110th Congress in 2008 and do not represent action taken by the full body of either chamber.
**Numbers represent the approved Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 1105) in the 111th Congress from February 25, 2009. The full House has approved the bill and now the full Senate is now considering the omnibus.
National Science Foundation Budget Request: Falling Off a Flat
Bement was more positive about the President's request for FY09 saying the NSF was "determined and optimistic" about next year's budget. He suggested that the President's determination to support his American Competitiveness Initiative, which calls for a doubling of physical science and engineering research at NSF, the Energy Department's Office of Science and the National Institute of Science and Technology, has helped NSF.
Indeed, the NSF would receive a 13 percent increase for a total budget of $6,854 million compared to the estimated budget for FY08. The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account would receive a 16 percent increase (about $773 million more) for a budget of $5,594 million. Education and Human Resources would receive an increase of almost 9 percent (about $65 million more) for a budget of $790 million.
The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account would receive a cut of 33 percent (about $73 less) for a budget of $147.5 million. Bement indicated that the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) and the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) would be deferred and would receive no funding from the MREFC account. Additional funds to complete design plans would come from the R& RA account within the Geosciences Directorate (about $2.5 million for ARRV and $5 million for OOI). There is a possibility that the scope of each project may be reduced in further planning.
While the MREFC would receive a cut, Integrative Activities (IA) which supports Major Research Instrumentation and Science and Technology Centers would receive a large increase of $44 million (about 19 percent more than FY08 estimates). Some of this increase would be for five to six new Science and Technology Centers.
The Geosciences Directorate (GEO) is the lead partner in the U.S. Global Change Research Program and is critical for mitigating environmental consequences while maintaining a growing economy. Funding for the Climate Change Science Program would increase about 4.4 percent (about $7 million) over the estimated FY08 budget for a total of $164.7 million in the request. In his remarks about NSF-wide initiatives, Bement also focused on NSF's new Dynamics of Water Processes in the Environment program which would receive $5.3 million in new funds in the President's request. Bement quipped that "while humans can survive without petroleum, they cannot survive without water". NSF would work with the U.S. Geological Survey on the water initiative.
Bement also focused on the Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) initiative, which received $48 million in FY08 and would receive a large increase to $100 million in FY09. The initiative would emphasize advancing science and engineering through new fundamental pathways in computing. Investments in CDI would emphasize From Data to Knowledge, Understanding System Complexity and Virtual Organizations. Geoscientists are encouraged to team up with engineers and computer scientists to apply for grants from CDI to tackle such areas of development as they apply to the geosciences.
Within GEO, Atmospheric Sciences would receive $260.58 million, an increase of 13.6 percent, Earth Sciences would receive $177.73 million, an increase of 13.9 percent and Ocean Sciences would receive $353.5 million, an increase of 13.9 percent. Jarvis Moyers, the acting director of GEO, in a break-out session after Bement's speech, noted modest growth for GEO of about one percent in the FY08 omnibus appropriations, the continuing support of Congress for NSF and the consistent request for a doubling track for NSF from the Administration.
A significant concern for NSF and GEO is the rising costs of materials, infrastructure, operations and maintenance. Costs for drilling, ships, instrumentation and raw materials are sky-rocketing as the supply and demand for these has increased in the public and private sector. Unexpected shortages, increasing competition and growing demand is significantly increasing the cost of basic research in GEO. This is one reason for NSF's decision to defer ARRV and OOI and not provide any funding for these facilities within MREFC.
Research infrastructure within GEO received the following budget requests: Academic Research Fleet would receive $87.96 million, EarthScope Operation would receive $26.29 million, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) would receive $12.2 million, Ocean Drilling Activities would receive $47.4 million, Ocean Observatories would receive $10.5 million and the National Center for Atmospheric Research would receive $95.42 million.
GEO also provided information about the number of people involved in their activities and the number of awards given. About 4,200 senior researchers, 3,000 other professionals, 600 postdoctorates, 2,400 graduate students and 1,700 undergraduate students are estimated to benefit from GEO activities in fiscal year 2008. Those estimates would jump substantially if the increases for FY09 are realized. An estimated 1,500 additional people would benefit directly in FY09.
New Web Portal: Research.Gov
Omnibus Appropriations Considered by the 111th Congress
The House has sent the measure to the Senate, which will consider it during the first week of March. Significant changes are not expected as the House and Senate Appropriation Committees appear to have worked out differences left by the committees of the 110th Congress from 2008 before introducing H.R. 1105. The 111th Congress must work fast to compromise any remaining differences in order to get the bill to the President by March 6.
House of Representatives of 110th Congress Do Not Complete Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2009
The House of Representatives considers funding for the National Science Foundation in the subcommitte for Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Representative Mollohan (D-WV), other members include Representatives Kennedy (D-RI), Fattah (D-PA), Ruppersberger (D-MD), Schiff (D-CA), Honda (D-CA), DeLauro (D-CT), Price (D-NC), Obey (D-WI), Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Culberson (R-TX), Rogers (R-KY), Latham (R-IA), Aderholt (R-AL), and Lewis (R-CA).
Senate of the 110th Congress Does Not Complete Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2009
The Senate considers funding for the National Science Foundation in the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Senator Mikulski (D-MD), other members include Senators Inouye (D-HI), Leahy (D-VT), Kohl (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Reed (D-RI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Shelby (R-AL), Gregg (R-NH), Stevens (R-AK), Domenici (R-NM), McConnell (R-KY), Hutchison (R-TX), Brownback (R-KS), and Alexander (R-TN).
On September 27th by a vote of 78-12, the Senate passed a continuing resolution, funding the majority of the government at fiscal year (FY) 2008 levels until March 6, 2009. Senate action followed after the House passed the measure (H.R. 2638) on September 24th by a vote of 231-198. The continuing resolution package contains three FY 2009 spending bills – Defense funded at $488 billion, Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs funded at $73 billion and Homeland Security funded at $40 billion - plus $23 billion in disaster relief funding. The spending package also includes funding of $2.5 billion for the Pell Grant program, $75 billion for a domestic automakers and battery makers new technology loan program, and $5.1 billion for the low-income heating assistance program.
The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-Office of Science), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were slated to receive healthy increases to their bottom-line research budgets in FY 2009 thanks to the passage of the America COMPETES Act in 2007. COMPETES authorizes a doubling of these budgets over 7 to 10 years. Unfortunately the lack of follow through in the appropriations process and the snowballing economic crisis of the past month make these increases untenable.
Additionally, the CR eliminates increases of tens of millions of dollars each for NSF, DOE-Office of Science and NASA that was provided in an emergency supplemental act approved in July. The flat budgets and the loss of the small emergency supplemental increases leaves federal science agencies extremely deflated, with small percentage cuts to their research portfolios and the need to re-organize their spending priorities. There is also a possibility of an across-the-board rescission to federal programs, if Congress needs to find funds to offset any emergency spending.
More details about the research budgets of specific science agencies in the CR is available from AAAS.
Sources: NSF Budget Information website
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prepared by Linda Rowan and Marcy Gallo, AGI Government Affairs Staff.
Last Update February 27, 2009