Overview of Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations

Choose an agency on the bar below to view AGI's analysis of the President's request for key geoscience-related agencies as well as detailed program and account information. Each of the appropriations pages provides a summary table, an overview of the budget request, and congressional action on the agency or department.


As in years past, AGI will provide testimony to several subcommittees on programs of importance to the geoscience community.

You can also keep up-to-date with the Library of Congress Table on Current Status of FY 2010 Appropriations Bills and the AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY 2010 Budget. As in years past, the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Project website has information on trends in federal research and development funding, including information on the president's request, congressional budget resolution, 302(b) allocations, and each science-related appropriations bill.

Appropriations Update 12/09

Congress passed H.R. 3288, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 on December 13, 2009. This bill provides funding for six separate appropriations bills consolidated into the Transportation/HUD bill. It includes funding for science agencies [National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)] and the Department of Education. President Obama signed the bill into law (Public Law 111-117) on December 16. Department of Defense appropriations were handled separately in a later bill and signed into law by the President on December 19. The conference committee provided a joint explanatory statement to explain their budgetary choices in H.R. 3288 in House Report 111-366.

The report calls for several general accounting requests from federal science agencies. NSF, NASA and the Departments of Commerce and Justice must provide the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations with quarterly accounts of cumulative balances of any unobligated funds and must submit spending plans within 60 days of enactment of the bill. In addition these agencies and departments must notify Congress about any cost increases of 10 percent or more for projects with initial costs exceeding $75 million.

The measure provides increases for most science programs, with NOAA receiving the largest percentage increase. Legislators noted that $1.3 billion is provided for climate change research and development in this bill. Within the Department of Commerce, NOAA would receive an 8.3 percent increase for a total budget of $4,737.5 million and NIST would receive a 2 percent increase for a total budget of $856.6 million in FY 2010 compared to FY 2009.

NSF would receive a 6.7 percent increase for a total budget of $6,927 million in FY 2010. Congress expresses concern in the report about future funding for NSF to maintain a doubling of the agency's budget over about a 10 year period as authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-69). NSF is below the authorized levels in the law for FY 2010 and below a doubling path. Legislators support at least a seven percent increase for NSF in the FY 2011 budget request in the conference report. Congress directs NSF to transfer $54 million to the Coast Guard for icebreaking services for FY 2010, but expects the Department of Homeland Security to request such funding in the future.

Congress does not specify funding levels within NSF programs in general, but the report does request NSF to maintain funding levels for climate change, cyber-enabled discovery and innovation, science and engineering beyond Moore’s law, adaptive systems technology, dynamics of water processes and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The report specifies support for high-risk, high-reward research, graduate research fellowships, ocean acidification research, climate change education, and EPSCoR. EPSCoR is the Office of Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and provides grants for research and education programs in underrepresented jurisdictions. The report directs NSF to consider integration within the hydrology community, supports strong increases for education and directs the agency to work to improve geographic literacy among K-12 students.

NASA with an increase of $942 million, or 5.3 percent over its FY 2009 appropriations of $17,782 million (without stimulus funding), receives a total budget of $18,742 million for FY 2010. Science funding would decline by about $34 million (0.8 percent). Within Earth science, the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure, and Dynamics of the Ice (DESDnyI) decadal survey missions would receive an additional $15 million above the President’s request and NASA would begin building a replacement for the destroyed Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) with at least $50 million ($25 million in additional funds and $25 million from the Science Mission Directorate) in FY 2010.

Congress remains concerned about NASA's ability to advance Earth science missions and encourages the agency to consider “commercial solutions.” Legislators request NASA and other agencies within the U.S. Global Change Research Program to review and recommend ways to implement the Earth science decadal survey missions with respect to climate science. Congress notes that “NASA should provide leadership in demonstrating satellite-based global change measurements that can then be implemented on an operational basis by NOAA and USGS.”

For a summary of geoscience funding levels please visit AGI’s Government Affairs program appropriation pages.

For a summary of science research and development funding across all federal agencies please visit AAAS’s R&D Budget and Policy program.

Appropriations Update 11/09

On November 5, 2009, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science approved a $64.8 billion spending bill for fiscal year 2010 (FY10). The measure would provide $4.77 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a 9 percent increase that is larger than the House-approved total budget of $4.6 billion and more than the President’s request. Much of the increase would be directed toward satellites and related ocean observing capabilities. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said, “The agency risks making decisions on insufficient data that could have unnecessarily drastic impact …We want to increase the NOAA budget to $8 billion and double it by 2013.”

The Senate subcommittee would provide $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is the same as the House-approved budget, but far below the authorized level of $8.132 billion for NSF in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-69).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive $18.7 billion, the same as the President’s request and about $500 million more than the House. NASA’s overall budget will not grow in FY10 and how much support legislators will consider for next generation human spaceflight in the future remains uncertain.

The House and the Senate must now conference on these funding levels to work out their differences. Conference work was delayed in November over debates on dealing with prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. As December begins, time is running out for conference action. A continuing resolution expires on December 18 and Congress must either pass the remaining appropriations bills or invoke a third continuing resolution.

The Senate Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations report is available from Thomas:

Appropriations Update 10/09

Congress passed and the President signed the Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on the October 30, 2009 deadline. The bill (H.R. 2996) became Public Law 111-088 and more details about the funding requests are also available in the conference committee report (111-316). The October deadline was based on a continuing resolution passed at the end of fiscal year 2009. Included in the Interior appropriations bill is a second continuing resolution for four other appropriation bills that have not been completed.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) received a total budget of $1,111.74 million for fiscal year 2010. The final budget is slightly above the President’s request and the House and Senate levels. About $5 million in congressionally-mandated projects were included in the final appropriations, which account for most of the increase. These projects are primarily local to regional natural resource management assessments and research investigations that benefit from USGS expertise. By law, the legislation includes a complete list of these projects and interested readers may find a table of projects and costs in the measure.

The Smithsonian Institution received $636.2 million for fiscal year 2010, about $2 million more than requested by the President and Congress. The additional funds are designated for the care of “priceless historical collections” within the various museums.

The Environmental Protection Agency received $846 million for science and technology, $2.994 billion for environmental programs and management, $1.3 billion for superfund clean-up, $113 million for underground storage tank clean-up, $18 million for oil spill research and $4.97 billion for state and tribal assistance grants for environmental programs. In most cases, these funding levels reflect compromises between small differences between House and Senate proposed levels, with Congress favoring one House level or splitting the difference between two different levels. The details of funding for other EPA programs is available in the legislation and associated reports.

Congress also requested EPA to consider more research on hydraulic fracturing, black carbon, Great Lakes marine vessel emission controls and the health effects of fuel efficiency and emissions reduction efforts related to climate change.

The new deadline for completing fiscal year 2010 appropriations for Science/Commerce/Justice, Defense, Military/Veteran Affairs and Transportation is now December 18, 2009. The science bill includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The greatest uncertainties about funding levels for science are likely to revolve around requests for human spaceflight within NASA and climate, satellite and fisheries funding within NOAA. Science funding may also see changes as Congress tries to balance the remaining budgeted levels between these four bills. Defense and Transportation are the largest and most complex of the remaining appropriations and there is concern that funding requests in these bills may overwhelm the others.

More information about the appropriations is available from Thomas.

Appropriations Update 9/09

Congress added a continuing resolution (CR) to the Legislative Affairs appropriations bill (H.R. 2918) in order to allow the federal government to continue operating with the fiscal year 2009 budget for thirty days. President Obama signed the bill into law on September 30, 2009. Fiscal year 2010 (FY10) started on October 1, 2009 without a new budget for domestic spending for 11 out of 12 appropriation bills. Only the legislative branch has a budget for FY10, however, the other 11 bills are expected to be completed before Halloween.

Congress did work swiftly at the end of the month to complete work on the Agriculture and Energy and Water appropriation bills. Both bills went through conference committees where differences between the House and the Senate were handled and final conference reports were completed by September 30, 2009. The full House approved the Energy and Water appropriation bill on October 1 and the Senate is expected to approve it soon.

Appropriation bills for science, education and Interior are awaiting further consideration. Science appropriations may be hampered by concerns about the budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration’s Human Spaceflight Task Force issued an interim report that suggested five methods to fund future spaceflight, however, some House members did not find the report very helpful and the appropriations subcommittee may have to discuss some tough choices regarding support for human spaceflight within NASA.

Interior appropriations may be hampered by concerns about the role of the federal government in climate change initiatives. A controversial amendment to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), was squashed, but other amendments to limit support for the Administration’s climate czar, Carol Browner and other related “policy czars” are on the table. Debates about access to offshore drilling may also enter the discussions as the House and Senate attempt to conference Interior appropriations.

Below are some highlights of geoscience-related funding in the Energy appropriations after conference:

The Department of Energy (DOE) total budget would increase by less than one percent compared to FY09 for a total of $27.1 billion. The Office of Science would increase about 4 percent to $4,757.6 million, with a $3 million increase for Biological and Environmental Research (including climate change research) for a total of $602 million and a $114 million increase for Basic Energy Sciences (including geoscience research) for a total of $1,637 million. Neither the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) nor RE-ENERGYSE would receive any new funds as requested by the Administration.

The Office of Fossil Energy would decrease about 40 percent for a total budget of $672 million, partly because stimulus funds were provided to support clean coal programs and no FY10 funds are provided in addition. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive $2.243 billion. Non-Defense Environmental Cleanup would receive $245 billion, while Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning would receive $574 million. Nuclear Waste Disposal would only receive $98.4 million to continue work on the licensing application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The Administration has requested that the repository be terminated and Congress has agreed by providing no additional funds for the program beyond licensing work required by law.

The text of the bills and conference reports are available from Thomas:
Energy and Water appropriations - http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:H.R.3183:
Agriculture appropriations - http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:H.R.2997:

Appropriations Update 5/09

The House and Senate appropriation subcommittees continue to work on 12 separate appropriation bills each, after the President released a more detailed budget proposal in mid-April.

The House Appropriation subcommittees have held many hearings already, while the Senate Appropriation subcommittees are just beginning a series of hearings. The most contentious issues of interest to the geosciences community revolve around funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

President Obama has proposed ending the manned space shuttle program at NASA after eight more missions and relying on the Russians for human transport to the space station and low Earth orbit for at least five years. The Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee expressed concerns about inadequate funding for the manned program as well as for the aeronautics program at a hearing on May 21, 2009. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Shelby (R-AL), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) express disappointment with some parts of the budget and are likely to fiddle with the distribution of funding for NASA programs. Appropriators in the House and the Senate also expressed concern about the flat funding for NASA in future years as proposed by the Obama administration. Several legislators called for continued increases for NASA, especially for science and Earth observations.

For DOE, President Obama has proposed ending the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project, reducing the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons and transferring the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to the Department of Defense (DOD). At a hearing on the DOE budget, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, expressed concern with the stagnant budget request for NNSA and worried about a “placeholder” budget until the administration reviews U.S. nuclear weapons strategy. Then-Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-IN) thought the nearly flat budget was appropriate to maintain the work force until a new strategy is put forward.

As of June 2, 2009, Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-IN) has given up his chairmanship of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee because his office has been subpoenaed regarding a lobbying scandal. Congressman Ed Pastor (D-AZ) will take over as chairman until the investigation is completed. Visit AGI's fiscal year 2010 appropriations pages for more information on hearings and funding.

Appropriations Update 4/09

On April 2, 2009, the House passed a concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 85) on the budget for fiscal year 2010 in the early evening and the Senate passed their resolution (S. Con. Res. 13) in the late evening after 13 hours of debate. The non-binding resolutions set budget priorities and outline spending levels for the federal government.  The resolutions were passed mainly along party lines and some language related to health care and climate change legislation remains contentious. After a two-week recess, Congress will reconvene on April 20th and the two chambers will have a conference committee work out the differences between the two resolutions.

The nearly $3.6 trillion budget includes a deficit of $1.2 trillion for fiscal year (FY) 2010. The plan is for the deficit to fall to $598 billion or $508 billion in the House and Senate respectively by 2014. The resolutions are aligned with President Obama’s budget request with some small modifications related to reducing the deficit more quickly. The House calls for $533 billion for discretionary spending, while the Senate calls for only $525 billion and the President requested $540 billion. The House and Senate did not include another $250 billion to bailout the financial industry as requested by President Obama. The plan would allow tax cuts for individuals and couples to expire in 2011 while limiting the tax burden on estates worth as much as $10 million.

The House plan offered specific support for investments in research and education to promote American innovation and economic competitiveness and the importance of addressing regional environmental issues that affect the Great Lakes.

The Senate and House resolutions increase appropriations for energy by about $1 billion or 18.4 percent above FY 2009 levels. The increases would focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, research and technological development. The General Science, Space and Technology function would see enough appropriations to continue the doubling of physical science research at the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department’s Office of Science and the research portion of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. Such doubling is authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007.

In addition the resolutions can accommodate significant increases for the Environmental Protection Agency to carry-out clean-up of superfund, brownfield and water projects.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an independent agency, would receive $18.7 billion in FY 2010 and right now the Senate includes an extra $2.5 billion compared to the President’s request for FY 2011 for space shuttle operations. The Senate Budget Committee is concerned about a gap in American manned space flight and is intent on keeping the shuttle operating while accelerating development of a new vehicle. As the resolution is non-binding, the Senate Appropriations Committee does not have to consider this proposal.

The Department of the Interior and the Forest Service would receive high enough funding levels to support appropriations to carry out the Public Lands Omnibus Act of 2009. The law authorizes significant funding for ocean research and geologic mapping among other scientific investments. The Senate resolution also specifically calls out investments in the Florida Everglades and the Great Lakes.

The budget levels for science and education are similar to the House levels, so no major disagreements over research appropriations are expected. The Senate resolution calls for possible deficit-neutral reserve funds for “clean energy”, climate change, protecting the environment and for education.

The Senate resolution contains a requirement that 60 votes are needed to pass any climate change legislation that would cause significant job loss and also that any climate change legislation include protections for consumers and strengthening of manufacturing competitiveness. The measure contains no language that would allow senators to fast-track cap and trade legislation.

Offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf (OCS) was also debated on the Senate floor. An amendment that includes OCS oil and gas revenue in the budget’s deficit neutral-reserve fund was approved and an amendment to expand OCS revenue sharing with coastal states was not approved. OCS revenue is the third largest source of federal revenue after income taxes and customs duties. Any new OCS revenue sharing must be offset by either new taxes or cuts to entitlement programs because the expiration of the OCS moratorium last year moved OCS revenue to a new budget scoring situation. Thus sharing new OCS revenues only with coastal states could mean new taxes or cuts in programs for all states.

President Obama plans to announce details of his FY 2010 budget request during the week of April 27th, about one week after Congress comes back from its recess. (04/09)

For FY09 updates, visit the Overview of Fiscal Year 2009 Geoscience Appropriations.

Sources: CQ.com, Congressional Budget Office, House Budget Committee, THOMAS (Library of Congress)

blue line

The Budget Process

Below is a diagram of the congressional budget process that first appeared in Following the Budget Process that was published in the March 1996 issue of Geotimes. It is adapted from a diagram developed by the House Budget Committee. Click on the image to open a PDF version.


Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Physics, E&ENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations, Library of Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Washington Post, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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

Contributed by Linda Rowan, AGI Government Affairs Staff.

Last updated December 10, 2009