FY22 Appropriations Update: House Proposes Healthy Numbers for the Energy Department’s Programs but Not as Strong as the President’s Request

Continuing our coverage of the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) federal budget process, 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. The House’s plan provides healthy, robust funding for these programs, but unfortunately it is not as good as what the President requested in May. Let’s get into the details.

The bill proposes a solid increase (+4.1%) for the Office of Science over FY21 levels, bringing the agency’s budget to $7.32 billion for FY22, an increase of $290 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 less generous increase of just 1 percent – going from $1.02 billion in FY21 to $1.03 billion in FY22. Both of these accounts would be funded below the President’s suggested plan.

However, there is good news when we look at the details of the House’s plan. ASCR’s research subaccounts received slight increases or were funded at the President’s suggested levels. The exception is the Exascale Computing Program which received a large 24 percent cut from its FY21 levels. However, this is a cut to construction costs, as several large super-computer systems ASCR has built in recent years are getting closer to coming online. Also, this cut is at the Administration’s request, so it was not directed by the House appropriators. So, from a research perspective, this plan is better than the overall number would suggest.

In the committee’s report, the House appropriators repeatedly spoke highly of the DOE’s research portfolio in CS and IT fields, with many specific call outs to supporting the agency’s efforts in AI and QIS. As well, the committee voiced its support for the new “Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW)” initiative, which is for targeted efforts to increase participation and retention of underrepresented groups in the Office of Science’s research activities.

Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive $600 million for FY22, a 41 percent increase (+$173 million) from the $427 million it received in FY21. The larger than expected increase for ARPA-E is due to the Biden Administration’s proposed ARPA-C (ie: Climate), which was not funded by the committee. In the committee’s report, it was noted that establishing another advanced research projects agency would require new legislation beyond the appropriations process. Further, the report notes that ARPA-E is already authorized to fund research like what ARPA-C is proposed to do. With that thinking, it’s not surprising that the committee would provide more funds to ARPA-E and direct it to focus more on climate research areas.

FY21 FY22 House $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.03B $7.32B +$290M +4.1%
ASCR $1.02M $1.03B +$10M +1.0%
ARPA-E $427M $600M +$173M +41%

The House Appropriations Committee approved their Energy & Water bill on July 16th; next step is for it to go before the full House chamber for passage. That is likely to be soon, as the committee announced that it would be moving several of its bills next week, and the E&W bill is one of them. Once the bill clears the House, we have to wait and see what happens with its Senate counterpart, as that chamber hasn’t begun public work on their slate of bills. Please check back for more updates.

FY22 Appropriations Update: House Proposes Healthy Numbers for the Energy Department’s Programs but Not as Strong as the President’s Request