Stimulus 2009 Department of Commerce Appropriations (05-15-09)

Science received significant one-time appropriations in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; H.R. 1; Public Law 111-5). Science agencies are now starting to release their reports and plans for the stimulus spending. All agencies that receive one-time funds are required to submit a plan with spending specifics to Congress within 60 days of enactment. In addition all agencies will be tracking the stimulus spending in separate accounts and providing updates on the uses of the stimulus spending. The Administration is also tracking stimulus spending for all federal programs at their website.

Geoscience-related agencies covered by the Department of Commerce stimulus funding include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Below are updates of stimulus spending plans, provided as the agencies release information and use the funds.

Stimulus 2009 Updates

Update on Overall Stimulus Spending for the Department of Commerce (2-17-09)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $836 million
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $580 million

NOAA – NOAA will receive $230 million for operations, research and facilities, $600 million for procurement, acquisition and construction. The conference report states that $600 million is for “construction and repair of NOAA facilities, ships and equipment, to improve weather forecasting and to support satellite development. Of the amounts provided, $170,000,000 shall address critical gaps in climate modeling and establish climate data records for continuing research into the cause, effects and ways to mitigate climate change.”

NIST - NIST will receive $220 million for scientific and technical research and services and $360 million for construction of research facilities. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) is directed by NIST and also has funding for earthquake engineering research and facilities. It is unknown at this time whether NEHRP will receive any of the supplemental appropriation.

Geosciences within the Department of Commerce

The primary interest for the geoscience community in the Department of Commerce appropriations is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Formed by President Nixon on October 3, 1970 as a part of the Commerce Department, NOAA was established to, in Nixon's words, serve a national need "...for better protection of life and property from natural hazards...for a better understanding of the total environment...[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources..." Of particular interest to geoscientists is NOAA research conducted through the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which is the driving force behind NOAA environmental products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration. NIST's mission is to develop and promote measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life. NIST carries out its mission in four cooperative programs including the NIST Laboratories, the Baldrige National Quality Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the the Advanced Technology Program. NIST is also the lead agency for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

Sources: Department of Commerce, NOAA website and budget office, NIST website.

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

Prepared by Linda Rowan and Corina Cerovski-Darriau, AGI Government Affairs Staff.

Last Update: May 15, 2009.