Your Definitive Stimulus Source ...

15 January 2009 6:03 pm

... is budget analysis ace Kei Koizumi of AAAS. And not just because he works for the same company as ScienceInsider, and his office is downstairs.

His initial take on the House-proposed stimulus package is a must-read:

The draft stimulus appropriations bill contains $13.3 billion in R&D funding, $9.9 billion for the conduct of research and development and $3.4 billion for R&D facilities and large research equipment, mostly extramural. Adding in another $2.5 billion in non-R&D but science and technology-related funding brings total science and technology-related funding in the stimulus to nearly $16 billion. There is also additional money for higher education construction and other education spending of interest to academia.

The bill requires nearly all of the funding to be awarded within 120 days of when the President signs the bill into law, with staggered deadlines of 30 days for formula funds, 90 days for competitive grants, and 120 days for competitive grants in brand-new programs, with the intention of spending the funding as quickly as possible to provide immediate economic stimulus.

But in a nod to concerns about possible waste and fraud in the enormous appropriations bill, there are extensive accountability and transparency mandates in the bill, including separate appropriations for agency inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor stimulus spending, a set-aside within programs for oversight spending, and the establishment of a new Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board to monitor and oversee all spending. There will also be a web site to provide detailed public disclosure of stimulus spending.

Key R&D funding agency highlights of the bill include:

National Science Foundation (NSF) - $3.0 billion (note: FY 2008 total budget $6.0 billion). There would be $2.5 billion for Research and Related Activities (R&RA), $100 million for education and human resources programs, and $400 million for major research equipment and facilities construction. Within R&RA, $2.0 billion would go to research grants, $300 million to the Major Research Instrumentation program (FY 08: less than $100 million), and $200 million to the Academic Research Infrastructure program, dormant since FY 1996, for competitively awarded university laboratory construction grants.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) - $3.9 billion (FY 08: $29.5 billion). $1.5 billion would be distributed proportionally among the NIH ICs to fund research, divided equally between FY 2009 and FY 2010 funding of $750 million each year. There would be $500 million for intramural construction in the Buildings and Facilities account, and $1.5 billion for competitively awarded extramural construction grants through a National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) program that has been dormant for the last few years. And $400 million would be transferred from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for 'health care comparative effectiveness research.'

Department of Energy (DOE) energy programs - The bill would provide $2.0 billion for energy efficiency and renewable research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects, of which $800 million is set aside for biomass (FY 08: $198 million) and $400 million for geothermal energy (FY 08: $20 million).

Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science - There would be $2.0 billion (FY 08: $4.0 billion) for a mix of extramural basic research, DOE laboratory research, facilities upgrades and construction, and advanced scientific computing. Of the total, $400 million would be carved out to start up the ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy), authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 but never appropriated until now.

NASA - $600 million (FY 08: $17.1 billion). There would be $400 million for Science, of which $250 million would be dedicated solely to earth science climate research missions mentioned in a 2007 National Academies Decadal Study as requiring extra funds to stay on track, $150 million for aeronautics research, and $50 million for NASA to recover from 2008 natural disasters.

NIST - $520 million (FY 08: $737 million). There would be $100 million for NIST lab research, $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program (formerly the ATP), $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and $300 million for a competitively awarded extramural construction grants program that was congressionally initiated a few years ago but only received $30 million for one year.

DOD - There would be $350 million for energy-related R&D.

HHS BARDA - There would be $430 million for advanced biodefense countermeasures R&D for (FY 08: $102 million) in the new Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

More details will be available shortly.

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