Funding for federal agencies, including NSF, will face cuts in FY 2006, according to White House Office of Management and Budget budget planning guidance for agencies, the Washington Post reports today.
It’s important to point out that this is one of the very first steps in the budget process. The agencies will craft their budgets over the next 4-6 months keeping the OMB guidance in mind, then submit them to OMB for final approval before they become part of the President’s Budget Request in February 2005. And then Congress will take its crack at them during the 2005 legislative year. The numbers can and will change significantly before they’re finalized. However, the lower the number given to the agencies at the start of the process, the harder it is to raise it through the remainder of the process — so this guidance doesn’t bode well for some science agencies in FY 06.
From the story:
The funding levels referred to in the memo would be a tiny slice out of the federal budget — $2.3 billion, or 0.56 percent, out of the $412.7 billion requested for fiscal 2005 for domestic programs and homeland security that is subject to Congress’s annual discretion.
But the cuts are politically sensitive, targeting popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. The Education Department; a nutrition program for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs all face cuts in 2006.
The administration has widely touted a $1.7 billion increase in discretionary funding for the Education Department in its 2005 budget, but the 2006 guidance would pare that back by $1.5 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs is scheduled to get a $519 million spending increase in 2005, to $29.7 billion, and a $910 million cut in 2006 that would bring its budget below the 2004 level.
Also slated for cuts are the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the Transportation Department, the Social Security Administration, the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Given OMB’s guidance, it’s easy to see why NSF’s Arden Bement was less than enthusiastic about future funding levels for his agency. The memo also apparently includes a proposed cut of 2.1 percent to the National Institutes of Health….