So, the good news this year was that the President and Congress were working from the same set of numbers for the first time in a long time. The bad news is that those numbers are pretty underwhelming. The President introduced his FY15 budget request today, a budget that would remain largely flat — increasing discretionary spending just $2 billion over FY14 ($1.014 trillion in FY15 vs. $1.012 trillion in FY14). NSF would grow just 1 percent (to $7.3 billion) under the “base budget” in the President’s plan. Research at NSF would actually decrease $3 million under the President’s plan ($5.191 billion in FY14 vs. $5.188 billion in FY15). (We’ll have lots more information about NSF’s budget request next Monday when the agency rolls out its detailed budget justification.)

Recognizing that the agreed-to budget caps were overly constraining for all the Administration’s priorities, the President included a $52 billion “wish list” of additional funding proposals — called the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative” — that includes increased funding for key science agencies that could be offset by cuts to farm subsidy programs, tax increases on “multi-million dollar retirement accounts,” and other spending cuts and tax increases identified by the Administration. Were that wish list to be approved by Congress, NSF could see an additional $552 million in funding (and R&D agencies overall would see an increase of $5.3 billion) However, congressional Republicans have already declared the wish list DOA.

Funding for other agencies in the President’s base budget is a bit of a mixed bag:

  • DOE basic and applied research would be up 6.1 percent in the President’s plan ($8.412 billion in FY 15 vs. $7.932 billion in FY14)
  • DOD basic and applied research would see an increase of 4.4 percent ($6.582 billion vs. $6.307 billion
  • NIST basic and applied research would increase 3.3 percent ($598 million vs $579 million)
  • NIH basic and applied research would increase 0.7 percent ($29.403 billion vs. $29.205 billion)
  • Homeland Security basic and applied research would decrease 1 percent ($250 million vs. $251 million).

Keep in mind that the expected inflation rate between FY 2014 and FY 2015 is about 2 percent.

The White House has released an R&D Budget Fact sheet that goes into some of the details.

But we’ll learn more about the agency priorities as the agencies roll out their own budget request over the next week or so.

As always, we’ll have the details as we learn them!

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Good job news for CS majors!

On February 6, 2014, in Computing Education, by Brian Mosley

Good news, computer science majors: you’ll make more money, on average, in your first job after college!

According to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), engineering and computer science majors, on average, make twice as much as their humanities and social science peers in their starting jobs; they even beat out the business majors. Salaries did slip a little from last year (the avg salary was about $100 lower in 2013; see chart below), but CS majors also received the highest number of job offers before graduation of the disciplines surveyed (69 percent had received at least one job offer).

Graph source from Forbes.


House and Senate negotiators have actually succeeded in reaching agreement on final numbers for all 12 outstanding FY 14 appropriations bills packaged into one omnibus bill (HR 3547) and, at first glance — considering the current budget environment and how bad things could have been — it’s not awful.

Here’s a quick summary:

NSF — The omnibus would fund NSF overall at $7.17 billion in FY 14. That’s well below the $7.6 billion requested by the President (and $82 million below the FY13 pre-sequester “enacted” number), but $290 million more than the FY13 post-sequester level, or an increase in real dollars for the agency of about 4.2 percent. Research and Related Activities would receive a similar increase – 4.1 percent to $5.8 billion. In both cases, appropriators appear to have split the difference in recommended funding levels between the more frugal House-approved plan and the more generous Senate Appropriations Committee approved plan.

DOD — Defense basic research (6.1) would see a 10 percent increase versus FY13 post-sequester; applied research (6.2) would increase 6.7 percent; and advanced technology development (6.3) would increase 3.7 percent — which suggests that the appropriators are heeding the message that basic and applied research should see some priority in the budget after short-term thinking cost them in previous budgets. I haven’t parsed all the line-by-line numbers in the bill yet to see how specific computing accounts fared, however.

DOE — DOE’s Office of Science would see an increase of about 9.7 percent to $5.07 billion in the bill. ARPA-E would remain unchanged at $280 million. The Advanced Scientific Computing Research program would see an increase to $478.6 million from $419 million in FY13 post-sequester (an increase of 14.2 percent).

NIST — NIST’s “core research” would see an increase of $41 million vs. FY13.

NIH — NIH’s budget would increase to $29.9 billion, from $28.4 billion in FY13 post-sequester.

So, in most cases, the omnibus would roll back the impacts of last year’s sequester, and in many cases provide increases beyond the roll back. Maybe just as importantly, this omnibus signals that FY14 appropriations are actually completed — there will be no continuing resolution for agencies for which there was too much controversy to reach a deal. House and Senate negotiators actually agreed to drop provisions the other side found contentious in the spirit of getting these bills done.

The House passed the bill today (359-67). Passage should also be swift in the Senate. Congress yesterday passed a short continuing resolution through Saturday to give themselves enough time to get this done.

Next up is the President’s budget for FY15 released in early Feb, then another shot at the debt limit (though the expectation is it will pass without as much of a fight this time around), and then appropriators will set to work on FY 15 appropriations, which they hope to finish in regular order — something that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades. We’ll keep you updated!

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