Sustaining the Commitment: FY 2012 Request Keeps Budget Doubling on Track for NSF, DOE Science, and NIST Research

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Publication date: 
19 February 2011

The  FY 2012 budget request that President Obama sent to Congress sustains his  commitment to keep the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the  Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the laboratory programs of the  National Institute of Science and Technology on a doubling trajectory.  Set against the second year of a proposed  five year freeze in total non-security discretionary spending, the S&T request  is a reaffirmation of the President’s belief in the importance of science and  technology to strengthen the nation’s economic and national security.

Office  of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren and his four associate  directors were upbeat at Monday’s briefing in describing the FY 2012 science  and technology request.  Declaring “this  is a budget that our Nation can be proud of,” Holdren said the $147.9 billion  request for Federal R&D is necessary to, as the President has stated, to  out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.

Calculating  the requested changes in department and agency FY 2012 budgets is considerably  more difficult this year because final FY 2011 appropriations bills have not  been enacted.  The House of  Representatives is working toward a scheduled vote on a continuing resolution  this week that would make dramatic cuts – beyond those first proposed last week  – in science and technology budgets tracked by FYI.  There is little or no chance the Senate will  pass this bill, resulting in a standoff that some are now predicting could lead  to a government shutdown after current funding expires on March 4.  The best case scenario at this point is a  series of additional short term funding measures that will keep the government  open. 

Without  firm numbers for current FY 2011 appropriations, traditional year-to-year  budget comparisons cannot be made.  As a  result, the Administration is, in almost all cases, comparing its new FY 2012  request to FY 2010 funding levels.  FYI  will use this format.

The  following are increases and decreases in science and technology budgets tracked  by FYI as compared to FY 2010 funding levels.   Greater detail on these requests will be provided in future issues of  FYI.  Note that some of the comparisons  include FY 2010 earmarked funding and budgetary adjustments; the below  percentages represent the “bottom line” figure usually taken from the budget  submissions sent to Congress.

National  Nuclear Security Administration, Weapons Activities: + 19.5 percent     National  Nuclear Security Administration, Total: +19.3 percent     National  Institute of Standards and Technology: +16.9%     National  Science Foundation: +13.0%     NASA,  Science: +11.5%     Department  of Energy Office of Science: +9.1 percent     National  Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: +1.8 percent     U.S.  Geological Survey: +0.6 percent

NASA:  no change

Department  of Defense Science and Technology Programs (6.1, 6.2, 6.3): -8.0 percent