The House has passed and the Senate is now considering omnibus legislation that would enact the unfinished FY 2009 appropriations bills Congress ought to have passed last September (but elected to punt). Included in the omnibus are appropriations for a number of key science agencies — appropriations that contain some significant increases for those agencies compared to their FY 2008 levels and that might signal Congress is finally getting serious about appropriating the increases for science authorized by the America COMPETES Act way back in August 2007.
Here’s the breakout for some science agencies of particular note to the computing community. In each case, these funding levels represent an increase to the baseline funding for the agency (ie, this funding, if passed, will likely represent the starting point in the FY 10 appropriations process). The Stimulus funding passed last month represents funding above and beyond this FY 09 appropriation:
National Science Foundation: NSF would receive a $363 million increase over FY 08, or 5.9 percent, increasing to $6.49 billion overall. Included in that increase is $339 million in additional funding for the Research and Related Activities account, an increase of 7.0 percent over the FY 08 level of $4.84 billion. Language in the report accompanying the bill directs NSF to “provide a for a balanced program across all science disciplines” as the agency decides how to allocated funding across the research directorates. Additionally, the agency is urged to “further to invest in cost-effective and innovative solutions, such as grid-computing, to address the Nation’s cyber infrastructure needs.”
The Foundation’s Education and Human Resources Directorate would also see an increase, growing $120 million over FY 2008, or 16.5 percent. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, however, would see a decrease of about $69 million (or 31.1 percent) compared to FY 08. However, MREFC fared well in the stimulus bill — it received an additional $400 million — so it’s not immediately clear to us how this decrease in funding will impact current and future projects funded out of MREFC.
Department of Energy’s Office of Science: DOE’s Office of Science would do extremely well under the FY 09 omnibus appropriation, growing 18.8 percent, or $755 million to $4.77 billion, versus FY 08. Included in the increase is $369 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, an increase of $18 million or 5.0 percent over FY 08.
National Institute of Standards and Technology: NIST’s budget would increase 8.4 percent, or $63.2 million to $819 million in FY 09. NIST’s Scientific and Technical Research and Services account — basically, NIST’s core research funding — would grow by $31.5 million (or 7.1 percent) to $472 million. NIST’s research facilities construction account would grow by 7.2 percent, or $11.5 million, to $172 million. Two somewhat controversial programs, the Technology Innovation Program (formerly the Advanced Technology Program) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships — both basically zeroed by the Bush Administration budget for FY 09 — both would receive funding in FY 09. MEP would grow $20.4 million to $110 million in FY 09. TIP would decline slightly (about $200,000) to $65 million.
National Institutes of Health: NIH would receive an increase of $938 million over FY 08 in the omnibus, bringing the agency’s top-line funding level to $30.3 billion in FY 09.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NASA Science funding is one of the few science funding accounts that would see a decrease in funding versus FY 08. While the overall NASA budget would increase $381 million, or 2.2 percent, over FY 08, the Science account would decrease $203 million, or 4.3 percent, to $4.7 billion in FY 09.
Not included in the omnibus is funding for research at the Department of Defense, but that’s because the FY09 Defense Approps (along with the Military Construction and Homeland Security bills) were passed under regular order last year. Included in that bill was an increase of 27.4 percent, or about $1.6 billion, in basic and applied research at Defense research agencies — including an 8.0 percent bump (or $136 million increase) for basic research.
The House has already passed the omnibus and the bill is being considered in the Senate right now, with the hope of passage either later this evening or tomorrow. Failing to pass the bill by March 6th would mean Congress would have to quickly act to pass another Continuing Resolution — a temporary stop-gap funding measure — to keep most federal agencies open. As this is written, it appears that the Democratic leadership in the Senate has enough votes to pass the bill as is, but we’ll update here if that changes.

 

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