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Obama Budget Asks for 1% Boost in Research

13 February 2012 1:10 pm
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The White House

One of the big three research agencies appears to be lagging behind its doubling peers in the president's 2013 budget request released this morning.

The $4.9 billion budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Science would rise by 2.4%, to $5 billion. In contrast, the National Science Foundation would receive a nearly 5% boost, to $7.37 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology a hike of 13%, to $860 million. These three agencies were originally singled by President George W. Bush in 2006 for a 10-year budget doubling, a promise that President Barack Obama and Congress have repeatedly endorsed despite the current tough economic times.

At the same time, any proposed increase represents a significant commitment by the Administration. The president and Congress have already agreed to spend $1.047 trillion on all discretionary programs for fiscal 2013, which begins on 1 October. That's a microscopic $4-billion rise over 2012 spending.

As a result, much of the president's budget delivers bad news to agencies. In contrast, Obama is asking for a 1% increase in overall federal spending on research, to $140 billion. Within that total, the White House seeks a similar 1% hike in the $30 billion devoted to basic research. Keep in mind, however, that last year Obama requested $148 billion for research, including nearly $33 billion for basic research.

The National Institutes of Health would also see its budget remain flat, at $30.7 billion, and NASA's budget would experience a $89 million dip, to $17.72 billion. Planetary sciences would feel the biggest hit within NASA's science mission directorate, losing 20%, to $1.2 billion. Within the Department of Energy, the 3-year-old Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get a 28% jump, to $350 million.

Highlighting his Administration's focus on jobs creation within his $3.8 trillion budget, the president touted a 3-year, $8 billion school-to-training program during a speech this morning at a community college in northern Virginia. The president has proposed similar multibillion-dollar programs in the past 2 years, but none have made it through Congress.

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