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SPECIAL UPDATE: The President's FY2009 Department of Commerce Budget Request

(Posted 2-13-08)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies. More details about DOC's budget for fiscal year 2009 are available from AGI's appropriation page for DOC.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
On February 7, 2008 Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher presented the President's fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The total request is for $4.1 billion, a 5.2% increase or $203 million above last year's enacted level.

According to Lautenbacher, "this budget allows us to continue making significant investment to protect life and property through improved weather and extreme event forecasting. By investing in climate monitoring, research and modeling we further solidify the U.S. as the world leader in climate science."

In alignment with the improved weather forecasting goals outlined by Lautenbacher, the National Weather Service, would receive $930.7 million a 2% increase, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, would receive $1.2 billion, a 21% increase, while the other major divisions are slated for a decrease. The National Ocean Service would receive a total of $488.2 million, a 9% decrease from last year's funding level, and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would receive $382.6 million, a 4% decrease.

The increases proposed in the National Weather Service (NWS) would target the Local Warnings and Forecasts Base with an increase of $23 million above FY08 for a total of $601.9 million. Hurricane and Climate Support Operations, that include NOAA's 15 new hurricane detection buoys, and the Tropical Ocean Atmosphere Array (55 buoys), would increase by $5.3 million, and Hurricane Forecast Modeling would increase by $4.3 million.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) would get the largest boost for a total budget of $1.16 billion, an increase of $203 million above FY08 levels. Within NESDIS the Geostationary Satellite System (GOES-R Series) would increase by $242.2 million above FY08 for the development of GOES-R instruments. The Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite Systems (POES), the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems (NPOESS), and the Geostationary Satellite System (GOES-N Series) would all see planned decreases as the systems are either in the final stages of development or are scheduled for launch; POES is scheduled to launch in February 2009 and NPOESS is scheduled to launch in 2013.

The President requested $488.2 million for the National Ocean Service (NOS), a 50% decrease from last year's funding level. Activities related to Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment would receive $157 million, a drop of $26 million below FY08. Within this program the Ocean Assessment account would receive $86 million (a decrease of $20 million, compared to FY08), the Reponses and Restoration account would receive $22.5 million (a decrease of $2.8 million), and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science account would receive $48.6 million (a decrease of $2.9 million). Funding for the Ocean and Coastal Management activities would total $98.8 million and includes $66.1 million for Coastal Zone Management grants. Also within NOS is $25.4 million, a $3.1 million decrease, for the Geodesy program.

While funding for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) overall falls by $15.5 million the Climate Research program within the OAR sees a boost of $2.7 million above FY08 levels for a total of $195.5 million. The Competitive Research program, which includes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and the Climate Data and Information program within Climate Research are the big winners with increases of $4.6 and $8.3 million for program totals of $134.7 and $8.3 million, respectively. The losers within Climate Research would be the Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes, which may drop $1.9 million for a total of $51.6 million, and Climate Observations and Services, Abrupt Climate Change Research, and Drought Research Study programs which would be zeroed out in the FY09 budget request.

The Weather and Air Quality Research program also within the OAR would increase by $5.5 million for a total of $57.6 million, while the Ocean, Coastal and Great Lake Research program would decline by $24.2 million for a total of $106.2 million. The potential loss in the Ocean, Coastal and Great Lake Research program would result specifically in decreases in the National Sea Grant College Program (a decrease of $2.1 million for a total of $55 million), and the Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lake Research Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes (a decrease of $2.2 million for a total of $20.8 million). Finally within the OAR, the Ocean Exploration and Research program, that now includes the National Undersea Research Program (NURP), would increase by $8.3 million above FY08 for a total of $27.8 million.

The NOAA budget documents are available at http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/~nbo/

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would see a decline in its overall budget from $756 million in FY08 to $638 million in FY09. Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said "I plan to seek detailed clarification from Commerce Secretary Gutierrez about proposed funding decreases for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In my view, such irresponsible cuts will hinder the Nation's capacity to generate robust economic growth."

However, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) within NIST would receive $6.26 million in the FY09 budget. Most of the proposed program funds, $5.55 million, would be slated for research and development, while the remaining funds would be utilized by NIST, the lead agency, in the management of the program. The NEHRP increase would be the result of the President's request of $3.3 million above the FY08 baseline level ($1.7million), plus the allocation of $1.5 million to NEHRP from a new Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities Initiative proposed by the Administration in the FY09 budget.

Special update prepared by Marcy Gallo, Government Affairs Staff.

Sources: NOAA budget documents, NIST budget documents, Department of Commerce budget documents.

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

Posted February 13, 2008.


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