FY21 Appropriations Update: House Numbers for the Dept of Energy are Better than the Administration’s but are Not Great
Continuing our review of the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) federal budget, we turn to the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water bill. This bill contains the budgets for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC) and ARPA-E, as well as funding for the Exascale Computing R&D program, for which DOE is the lead federal agency. While the House’s numbers are significantly better than the 17% cut that the Administration requested in February, they represent a fairly small increase over last year’s budget. Let’s get into the details.
The bill proposes only a slight increase (+<1%) for the Office of Science over FY20 levels; bringing the agency’s budget to $7.05 billion for FY21, an increase of just $50 million. Within the Office of Science, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which houses the majority of the computing research at DOE, would see a more generous increase of 4.1 percent – going from $980 million in FY20 to $1.02 billion in FY21. When you look at the other programs within the Office of Science, ASCR is the only one that received more than a 1% increase or wasn't flat funded.
It's worth noting that the Appropriations Committee repeatedly spoke highly of DOE's research in CS and IT fields. Topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Exascale, and Quantum Information Sciences are repeatedly mentioned, with high praise, in the committee’s report.
Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive $435 million for FY21, a 2.4 percent increase from $425 million in FY20. For another year, the committee dismissed the President’s request to zero out the agency’s budget.
|FY20||FY21 PBR||FY21 House||$ Change||% Change|
|DOE SC Total||$7.00B||$5.84B||$7.05B||+$50M||+<1%|
The House Appropriations Committee approved this bill on Monday; next step is for it to go before the full House chamber for passage. After that, as with the other FY21 funding legislation, we have to wait and see what happens with the Senate counterparts. While the Senate Appropriations Committee have said they plan to move on their bills this month, very little has actually happened publicly. It’s a wait-and-see situation; please check back for more updates.