Computing Research Policy Blog

The Computing Research Association (or CRA) has been involved in shaping public policy of relevance to computing research for more than two decades. More recently the CRA Government Affairs program has enhanced its efforts to help the members of the computing research community contribute to the public debate knowledgeably and effectively.


Fiscal Year 2019 Update: Most of the Budget is Done…Except for what’s Most Important for Researchers


It’s been a busy September from a Congressional appropriations perspective. As of this writing, nine of the twelve appropriations bills have passed, including the Defense, Energy and Water, and Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) bills – a productive pace not seen from Congress in many years. While it’s good these were passed into law, and they do cover some important research agencies, left unfinished is one key bill of concern to the computing research community — the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which includes funding for NSF, NIST, NOAA and NASA; more on that in a moment. Until then, here are the details of the pieces of legislative that have passed.

The Defense Appropriations bill includes all the funding for the Defense Department (DOD). It’s worth taking a look back and seeing the Administration’s budget request for DOD Science & Technology. To recap: it was a mixed bag of increases for 6.1 Basic Research and DARPA, with reductions for 6.2 Applied Research and 6.3 Advanced Technology Development. Congressional appropriators decided to go in a different direction and provided large increases across the board.

FY18 Final FY19 PBR* FY19 House FY19 Senate FY19 Final $ Change** % Change**
DOD 6.1 $2.34B $2.27B $2.30B $2.80B $2.62B $280M 11.8%
DOD 6.2 $5.68B $5.10B $5.57B $5.58B $6.07B $390M 7.7%
DOD 6.3 $6.84B $6.33B $6.56B $7.05B $7.36B $520M 8.0%
DARPA $3.07B $3.44B $3.39B $3.45B $3.43B $360M 11.7%

* – PBR is “President’s Budget Request”
** – All changes are against FY18 Final

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill covers the Department of Energy (DOE), with the Office of Science (DOE SC) and the Advanced Research Project Agency, Energy (ARPA-E) being the pieces of most concern. Regular readers will remember that the President suggested a large cut (34%) to the Office of Science and wanted to eliminate ARPA-E. Once again, Congressional leaders ignored the Administration’s request and provided increases to the agencies.

FY18 Final FY19 PBR* FY19 House FY19 Senate FY19 Final $ Change % Change
DOE SC $6.26B $5.39B $6.60B $6.65B $6.59B $390M 5%
ASCR $810M $899M $915M $980M $936M $126M 15%
ARPA-E $353M $0 $325M $375 $366M $13M 4%

Within the Labor-HHS bill, the agency of most importance is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Following the pattern from above, the President proposed a significant cut, which Congress rejected.

FY18 Final FY19 PBR* FY19 House FY19 Senate FY19 Final $ Change % Change
NIH $37.08B $34.1B $38.33B $39.08B $39.80B $2.72B 5%

So why hasn’t the CJS bill passed yet? Not because of concerns about science, but because of issues surrounding the Mueller Investigation at the Department of Justice, as well as enforcement of the Administration’s immigration policies. It’s expected to move only after the Congressional mid-term elections in November; and even after that, its path forward could change depending on the election results. The agencies under the three remaining appropriation bills (CJS, State and Foreign Operations, & Department of Homeland Security), including NSF, will operate under a Continuing Resolution (CR) until December 7, at which point Congress and the President will either have to agree to pass the bills, pass another CR, or let the agencies covered by those bills shut down until an agreement is reached. The President seems to be itching for an opportunity to shut down government if his requested funding for a border wall isn’t included in any agreement, and Congress seems reluctant to do that, so we will have to wait to see how that plays out in December. Until then, CRA will continue to monitor the situation and will report back when there are new developments; please check back.

Fiscal Year 2019 Update: Most of the Budget is Done…Except for what’s Most Important for Researchers