American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program SPECIAL UPDATE

President's FY 1999 Budget: Large Increases for Most Science Agencies, But Others Left Behind


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies

IN A NUTSHELL: On Monday, the President released his Fiscal Year 1999 budget request that contains significant increases for most civilian science agencies. The National Science Foundation's Geoscience Directorate is one of the big winners, slated for an 11.5 percent increase. Although the U.S. Geological Survey as a whole would receive a 6 percent increase, the Geologic Division continues to lose ground. This update reports on the President's budget request for these agencies as well as the Depart ment of Energy, NASA, NOAA, EPA, Department of Education, and Department of Agriculture.


A healthy economy made it possible for President Clinton to release a balanced budget request for Fiscal Year 1999 (FY 1999) that is peppered with spending increases, especially for science agencies. This year's budget release on Monday was a sharp contr ast to the gloomy budget briefings of recent years in which agency heads announced spending levels that mostly represented constant-dollar cuts. The President's budget proposes a Research Fund for America that provides most civilian research agencies with an 8 percent increase for FY 1999 and a 32 percent increase by FY 2003 (not adjusted for inflation). It should be noted, however, that a portion of this Fund -- $25 billion of $170 billion over five years -- is dependent on the pending tobacco settlement legislation.

But amidst the good news for research, there were pockets of very real concern for the geoscience community, particularly cuts to the U.S. Geological Survey's Geologic Division. AGI will seek to work with Congress to ensure that the rising tide for scien ce does not leave our community behind.

Department of the Interior
Overall, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) fared well in the President's request with a proposed increase of $47.7 million to $806.9 million for FY 1999, including several new initiatives for a real-time natural hazards information network, watershed re storation, and habitat conservation. Three of the four divisions received sizable increases, but not the Geologic Division, which would receive a $1.4 million cut to $233.8 million. In particular, the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program is offer ed up for a $1.7 million decrease spread across all of its components. Coastal studies, mineral resources, and energy resources all received cuts. The division's only increase is $2 million for "interdisciplinary science for habitat restoration and specie s conservation tailored to the specific management needs of selected ecosystems," including the Salton Sea, Platte River, Greater Yellowstone, and Mojave Desert.

The Water Resources Division would receive a $19.3 million increase to $214.2 million. Of that amount, the NAWQA program would receive a $6 million increase. Another $7 million is requested for the Administration's Kalamazoo initiative, a request rejecte d by appropriators last year. In a turnaround from previous years, the Administration has requested an increase for the Water Resources Institutes, which it has regularly sought to eliminate only to see funding restored by Congress. The National Mapping D ivision is slated to get a $16 million boost to $151.8 million, most of that for the real-time hazards information initiative. The bulk of those new funds, however, would be passed through to other agencies. The Biological Resources Division is up $13.2 m illion to $158.3 million.

Elsewhere in Interior, the request for the Office of Surface and Mining and Reclamation is $347 million, up 12 percent. The Minerals Management Service total budget request of $833.1 million, up 4 percent, includes a 15 percent decrease in appropriations offset by increases in both collections and lease payments. The National Park Service request is $1,753 million, up 5.7 percent. For more information, see the Department of the Interior's web site at:

National Science Foundation
The Administration has requested $3,773 million for NSF, an 11 percent increase over FY 1998. Research Project Support would increase 12 percent to $2,126 million, Research Facilities funding would increase 5.2 percent to $735 million, and Education and Training funding would increase 10.7 percent to $737 million. The request for the Geosciences Directorate is $507.3 million, an 11.5 percent increase. Of that amount, the Earth Sciences Division would receive 106.7 million, up 12.2 percent; Ocean Science s would receive $230.4 million, up 11.8 percent; and Atmospheric Sciences would receive $170.2 million, up 10.7%. For more information on the NSF budget, visit their web site at: y1999/start.htm.

Department of Energy
The Fossil Energy R&D budget request is $383.4 million, up 5.8 percent. Within that total, the Oil Technology program would increase 3 percent to $48.6 million, and the Natural Gas program would decrease 1.5 percent to $109.6 million. The DOE Basic Ener gy Sciences program would receive a 25 percent increase to $836.1 million with the bulk of that increase for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source. The Geosciences program is slated for a 12 percent increase to $25 million, most of that for carbon dioxide terrestrial sequestration studies.

The Yucca Mountain project would receive $380 million, up 10 percent from FY 1998 appropriated levels but $2 million less than last year's request. The funding would be split equally between the defense nuclear waste disposal account and the nuclear wast e disposal fund. The Environmental Management program, which oversees cleanup of the nuclear weapons complex would receive $4260 million, down 1 percent.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA's FY 1999 request of $13.5 billion represents a slight (1.5 percent) decrease from the 1998 budget. Of particular interest to the geological community is the Earth Science program -- formerly Mission to Planet Earth --, which shows a $5 million inc rease to $1,372 million. The associated science component is up $1 million to $295 million. The goal of NASA's Earth Science programming is better understanding of "the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes in the global environment." For more budget information, see:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA's request for $2.1 billion for FY 1999 represents a 6 percent increase over the FY 1998 appropriated levels. The Oceanic and Atmospheric Research account would receive $251.2 million, down 9.5 percent. The National Ocean Service is up 4 percent to $243.4 million; the National Weather Service up 8.5 percent to $564.4 million, and the NESDIS program down 25 percent to $100.4 million. Despite the overall budget increase, NOAA plans to significantly reduce its number of field offices, and reduce its wo rkforce from over 13,000 in FY 1998 to less than 12,500 during FY 1999. The reduction will consist of program transfers to other federal agencies as well as the elimination of positions.

The budget seeks to acquire resources for two specific presidential priorities: the Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative and the Clean Water Initiative. The $22 million request to support the Administration's Clean Water Initiative is designed to help p rotect coastal communities from toxics and reduce the flow of pollution into coastal waters from nonpoint sources. The Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative asks for $55 million to launch new activities to reduce the cost of hazards such as natural hazard s (hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, heat, floods, and droughts); geological activities (volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis); and extreme biologic events (harmful algal blooms, nonindigenous species, persistent hypoxia, etc.). For more budget informa tion, see:

Environmental Protection Agency
EPA's overall budget request is $7.8 billion, a 5.4 percent increase over FY 1998. The request was presented in terms of a series of goals such as Clean Air, Clean and Safe Water, and Safe Food. Of the 10 goals, Sound Science was one of two to receive b udget cuts, from $404.7 million in FY 1998 to $366.9 million in FY 1999. It is not yet clear how those cuts relate to funding for the Office of Research and Development or for individual geoscience-intensive programs.

Department of Education
President Clinton's FY 1999 budget for the Department of Education reflected many of the new initiatives he proposed during his State of the Union address. Overall, the DoEd budget request is approximately 9 percent above FY 1998 allocation at $37.8 bi llion. It requests $1.1 billion for recruiting and training 100,000 new teachers over the next 7 years in order to reduce class size to an average of 18 students in grades 1-3. It also specifies $20 billion in interest-free bonds for school construction to accommodate the accompanying increase in classrooms. The Eisenhower Professional Development State Grants program request is equal to the amount allocated in FY 1998 -- $335 million. The request for Eisenhower Professional Development Federal Activi ties increased 114 percent over FY 1998 to a total of $50 million.

Department of Agriculture
The Natural Resources Conservation Service's budget for FY 1999 is $1,304 million, a 3 percent increase over FY 1998. Of that amount, Soil Surveys are funded at $78 million, up $2 million. The discretionary spending requested for the U.S. Forest Service is $2,554 million, up $48 million from FY 1999. For specific budget information on these agencies, see:

Contributed by David Applegate, John Dragonetti, and Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs

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

Last updated February 4, 1998

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