Following the delay of President Obama’s budget request, there is now a framework in place for the upcoming debate on Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) appropriations. Congress will certainly not pass the budget as the President proposed it, but in recent years, funding for the sciences has tracked closely to the President’s initial request.
This year, the debate will be framed within the constraint of the Budget Control Act (BCA) and concerns about sequestrations stipulated in the legislation. The debate on the FY13 budget is likely to continue throughout the election season as each political party strives for new seats in Congress to boost bargaining power.
To keep science funding steady, it is crucial that science supporters advocate for increases to science accounts totaling more than 8% — a move that is necessary given that the BCA calls for reductions of 8% to any non-discretionary funding in the FY13 appropriations bills after they are passed.
Below is a summary of the proposed budget compared to FY12 appropriations:
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
The President requested $7.37B in FY13 for NSF, a proposed increase of $340M, or +4.8%, from $7.03B in FY12.
The research and related activities (R&RA) account would receive an increase of +4.5%, from 5.72B to $5.98B. Education and human resources (EHR) would increase from $829M to $876M (+5.7%) and Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) technically would receive an increase of ~$30M from FY12 appropriations levels, but due to transfers between accounts, would decline slightly from $197M to $196M.
The Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) would receive an overall increase of +2.8%, from $1.31B in FY12 to $1.35B in FY13. However, much of the 2.8% increase would be delivered to areas other than physics. The Division of Physics would see a modest +1% increase from $277M in FY12 to $280M in FY13, but even that increase would be jeopardized by BCA’s sequestrations.
DOE Office of Science
The DOE Office of Science would receive a modest bump from $4.89B to $4.99B (+2%) in the President’s budget request. The 2% increase would be focused mostly on Basic Energy Sciences (+6.6%) and Science Program Direction (+9.5%). The sub-accounts of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES), High Energy Physics (HEP), and Nuclear Physics (NP) would see decreases, with FES declining from $401M in FY12 to $398M in FY13 (-0.7%), NP declining from $547M in FY12 to $527M in FY13 (-3.7%) and HEP slipping from $791M in FY12 to $777M FY13 (-1.8%). The presidential request did not assign a high priority to the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), providing only minimal funding that would allow it to “limp along,” in the words of John Holdren, the President’s science adviser. By contrast, the presidential budget would provide $150M for ITER, $40.6M for the CEBAF 12 GeV upgrade, $22M for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), $104M for NSLS-II and $63.5M for LCLS-II to advance these projects..
The President’s budget requested significant increases for the ARPA-E and EERE accounts, with ARPA-E to be funded at $350M in FY13 up from $275M in FY12, an increase of +27%, and EERE to be funded at $2.34B in FY13 up from $1.82B in FY12, an increase of +28%.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
The President requested $4.91B in FY 2013 for NASA Science, a decrease of about $180M, or -3.6%, compared to FY 2012.
The overall reduction to NASA Science would be assigned mostly to the Planetary Science account, which would decline 21% from $1.5B inFY12 to $1.19B in FY13. Astrophysics would see a 2% decrease from $672M to $659M.
Countering these decreases were requested increases in funding for the James Webb Space Telescope (now a separate account) by +21% from $518M in FY12 to $627M in FY13. There were slight proposed increases in the Earth Sciences and Heliophysics accounts. Earth Sciences would increase from $1.76B in FY12 to $1.78B in FY13 (+1.4%) and Heliophysics would increase from $620.5M in FY12 to $647M in FY13 (+4.3%).
The shift in proposed funding for these subaccounts represents a prioritization in the FY13 Budget Request under tough budget constraints. The savings in the Planetary Science account stem from the cancellation of two future Mars satellite missions, and with the increases in future funding necessary to see a launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the cancellation of such missions are difficult choices that must be made.
The President requested $708M in FY13 for NIST Core funding – up from $622M in FY12 and this would be a sizable increase of +13.8%. The proposed 13.8% increase is reflected in the funding of the Construction of Research Facilities (CRF) and Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS). CRF would receive an increase from $55M in FY12 to $60M in FY13 (+9.1%), and STRS would receive an increase from $567M in FY12 to $648M in FY13 (+14%).
The majority of the increased funding at NIST is meant to focus on advanced manufacturing research through the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortium (AMTC), a new program that would be funded at $21M. The proposed funding of AMTC is in line with the Administration’s emphasis on creating high quality jobs in the U.S. through innovation.
Since the early 2000’s NIH has received ~50% of the total United States R&D budget and the President’s budget request of $31B in FY13 continues that trend. The proposed increase is modest, however, at +1.1% over the $30.64B budget from FY12.
DOD 6.1 & 6.2
Continuing the trend from last year’s request, DoD’s overall R&D portfolio did not include a request for an increase. The recent reductions are due, in part, to restrictions on defense spending as mandated by the BCA. The basic research account would receive an increase from $2.10B in FY12 to $2.11B in FY13 (+0.2%) while the applied research account would see a decrease from $4.7B in FY12 down to $4.47B (-5%) in FY13.