In February,we wrote about the President’s Budget Request for the Department of Energy (DOE) for FY2013, in which he requested an increase of 2.4 percent for that agency’s Office of Science (SCI) and a $456 million increase for SCI’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research program.
In early June, the House took its crack at the agency as part of its passage of the FY13 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and the message was more decidedly mixed. Despite an allocation for the
E&W bill with room for $87.5 million more spending than FY 12, cuts fell on programs in the Office of Science and on the agency’s ARPA-E program. Overall, Office of Science would see a 1.5 percent decrease in FY13 in the House-approved plan compared to FY12. Within SCI, ASCR managed to hold its ground in the House bill, remaining essentially flat ($442 million) vs FY12 ($441 million…though, when inflation is considered, “essentially flat” means “was cut”). Still, ASCR fared better than the average SCI program and better than the Basic Energy Sciences account, for example, which saw a 1.8 percent cut compared to its FY12 level
Early numbers out of the Senate Appropriations Committee (the full Senate has not yet considered the bill, and likely won’t until after the November elections) are more positive. SCI would receive a 0.7 percent increase under the Senate plan, and ASCR would see 3.3 percent more than in FY13. The ARPA-E cuts approved by the House are completely reversed in the Senate Appropriator’s plan, with the office slated to receive an increase of $53 million (to $300 million in FY13), or a 21.6 percent increase.
There’s a long way to go before these funding levels are finally resolved. Most believe further appropriations actions are likely to be postponed until the lame duck congressional session following November’s elections. At that point, House and Senate conferees will have to meet to work out the differences between the two approaches. As we learned again last year, where that final number ends up is anybody’s guess.
But we’ll have all the details for you here!