FY22 Update: Omnibus Numbers Released; NSF Fares Badly While Defense Research Does Well

UPDATE: The Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus late in the evening on March 10th, sending it to President Biden to be signed into law. Therefore, Fiscal Year 2022 is complete.

Original Post: Over six months after the fiscal year began, Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) is inching closer to being passed into law by Congress. Unfortunately, this massive legislative package does not contain good news for many of the research accounts that the computing community is concerned about, most especially NSF.

Released in the early hours of March 9th, the FY22 Omnibus funding legislation is a legislative behemoth of over three thousand pages combining all twelve appropriation bills, a new four day continuing resolution (till March 15th), and two supplemental funding requests (one for the Ukraine War and the other for COVID response; to add to the drama, the COVID supplemental was ultimately yanked from the final package). Not only is there a lot going on with this legislative package but there is also not a lot of time for Congress to act, with the current continuing resolution (CR) only running until Friday March 11th.

Before getting into the details of the Omnibus, it’s worth taking a step back to understand what thinking that has shaped the funding plans for Fiscal Year 2022. Both the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats were adamant that they were increasing non-defense spending (which includes most of the research agencies we care about), while keeping defense spending flat. Their view is that during the sequestration budget years, non-defense spending had disproportionally received cuts and Democrats would be making up for lost time. The Administration budget request, and both the House and Senate budget plans, were developed with this mindset.

But when Democrat and Republican appropriators came to an agreement on final top line numbers for FY22 in mid-February, it was decided that defense and non-defense spending would be raised equally. This was because Democrats needed Senate Republicans to pass a final bill into law and this was the price of that support. At a high level, the details of the FY22 Omnibus confirm this agreement: the bill provides $730B in non-defense funds, a $46 billion increase over fiscal 2021, while it includes $782B in defense funds, a $42 billion increase. Unfortunately, that means the increases for non-defense spending in both the House and Senate plans had to be pared back; in NSF’s case, that meant a significant change in fortunes.


The National Science Foundation would receive $8.84 billion for FY22, an increase of $350 million over last year or +4.1 percent. The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, which hosts NSF’s research portfolio, would receive a similar 4.2 percent increase, up from $6.91 billion in FY21 to $7.2 billion for FY22. Finally, the Education and Human Resources (EHR) account would also see an increase of 4.3 percent, going from $996 million in FY21 to $1.01 billion in FY22.

As for the new TIP Directorate, no dollar amount is given for establishing it. However, in the explanatory statements for Division B, which covers NSF, the appropriators say, “the agreement (meaning the omnibus) supports the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) within R&RA that builds upon and consolidates existing NSF programs.” This gives the agency the greenlight to start spending money on new initiatives within TIP. The Administration had requested $865 million in its initial request for the agency, so that will likely be what the agency will spend.

Regular readers will notice these numbers are well below both the House (+13.4 percent) and Senate (+11.8 percent) marks, to say nothing of what the President proposed (+19.8 percent). But when you consider that inflation is currently running at 7.5 percent, this increase is an effective cut; the agency won’t be able to maintain the same level of effort. This is a terrible way for the agency to close out the fiscal year, especially given what Congress is planning for NSF with the USICA and COMPETES bills. In fact, it’s fair to ask how the agency is supposed to keep the nation competitive without providing sufficient funding?

FY21 FY22 PBR FY22 House FY22 Senate FY22 Final $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.49B $10.20B $9.63B $9.49B $8.84B +$350M +4.1%
R&RA $6.91B $8.14B $7.70B $7.67B $7.20B +$290M +4.2%
EHR $968M $1.29B $1.27B $1.10B $1.01B +$42M +4.3%

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) numbers are better and it’s the big winner within the CJS section of the Omnibus. The top line for the agency would be well funded, receiving $1.23 billion in FY22, which would be an increase of $200 million or a 19 percent increase. The institutes’ Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would also see a healthy increase for FY22: $850 million, which is $62 million more (+7.9 percent) than it received for FY21. Despite being objectively good numbers, these are well below either the House or Senate plans for either the agency’s top line (House +33 percent; Senate +35 percent) or STRS (House +19 percent; Senate +16 percent).

FY21 FY22 PBR FY22 House FY22 Senate FY22 Final $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.03B $1.50B $1.37B $1.39B $1.23B +$200M +19%
STRS $788M $916M $938M $913M $850M +$62M +7.9%

NASA’s budget is similar to NSF, in that it will receive increases that don’t keep up with inflation. The top line for the agency goes from $23.27 billion in FY21 to $24 billion in FY22, an increase of $730 million or 3.1 percent. That is well below both the House (+7.6 percent) and Senate (+6.6 percent) marks.

As for the NASA Science account, it would receive a 4.1 percent increase and go from $7.30 billion in FY21 to $7.60 billion in FY22. Much like the agency’s top line, these numbers are well below both the House (+9.2 percent) and Senate (+8.2 percent) marks.

FY21 FY22 PBR FY22 House FY22 Senate FY22 Final $ Change % Change
NASA Total $23.27B $24.80B $25.04B $24.80B $24.00B +$730M +3.1%
Science $7.30B $7.93B $7.97B $7.90B $7.60B +$300M +4.1%

Energy: Dept of Energy, ASCR, and ARPA-E

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would receive a relatively good increase in the FY22 Omnibus. The agency’s budget would go from $7.03 billion in FY21 to $7.475 billion in FY22, an increase of 6.3 percent or $445 million. Within the Office of Science, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, which houses the majority of the computing research at DOE, would see a deceptively good increase of 2.0 percent – going from $1.02 billion in FY21 to $1.04 billion in FY22. I say deceptive because, much like the House and Senate plans, the ASCR construction subaccounts receive large decreases due to their projects coming closer to be completed. Meanwhile the ASCR research subaccounts would receive increases of 6 to 7 percent.

Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive an increase but not near the House (+41 percent) or Senate (+17 percent) plans. The agency would be funded at $450 million in FY22, an increase of 5.4 percent or $23 million over FY21. Additionally, the proposed ARPA-C (Climate) was not funded in the FY22 Omnibus.

FY21 FY22 PBR FY22 House FY22 Senate FY22 Final $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.03B $7.44B $7.32B $7.50B $7.475B +$445M +6.3%
ASCR $1.02B $1.04B $1.03B $1.04B $1.04B +$20M +2.0%
ARPA-E $427M $500M $600M $500M $450M +$23M +5.4%

Defense: DOD and DARPA

In some good news, the Defense Department’s research accounts fared much better in the final Omnibus agreement. Regular readers will recall that the House numbers were not good (though not as bad as the Biden Administration’s request), while the Senate numbers were pretty good. The final numbers were very much a compromise between the two chambers but provided increases for all the accounts.

Basic Research (6.1) would receive an increase, going from $2.67 billion in FY21 to $2.76 billion in FY22, an increase of 3.4 percent or $90 million. The Administration originally requested a 14.5 percent cut for the account; the House had proposed an 8.7 percent cut, while the Senate numbers suggested a 12.5 percent increase.

The Applied Research (6.2) account fairs better. The account would see an increase of 7.1 percent compared to last year’s budget, going from $6.45 billion in FY21 to $7.1 billion (+$460 million) in FY22. These were both better than the House (-8.3 percent) and the Senate, (+1.3 percent) marks.

The Advanced Technology Development (6.3) account would also receive the biggest increase, going from $7.76 billion in FY21 to $9.22 billion in FY22; an increase of $1.46 billion or 19 percent. This is significantly better than both the House (-1.5 percent) and Senate (+4.98 percent).

Finally, DARPA would also receive a healthy increase over FY21. The agency would go from $3.50 billion in FY21 to $3.87 billion under the FY22 Omnibus, an increase of 10.6 percent or $370 million. This is better than the House mark (-0.6 percent) but below the Senate’s (+12.1 percent).

FY21 FY22 PBR FY22 House FY22 Senate FY22 Final $ Change % Change
DOD 6.1 $2.67B $2.28B $2.44B $3.00B $2.76B +$90M +3.4%
DOD 6.2 $6.45B $5.51B $5.92B $6.53B $6.91B +$460M +7.1%
DOD 6.3 $7.76B $6.89B $7.64B $8.13B $9.22B +$1.46B +19%
DARPA $3.50B $3.53B $3.48B $3.93B $3.87B +$370M +10.6%

Unless something extraordinary happens, these are likely to be the final numbers for FY22. While Congress currently has until the end of the week to pass this package, the House included a new CR (running until March 15th) in their flurry of votes, just in case extra time is needed. But that’s likely the last CR Congress will consider for this fiscal year. The House passed the Omnibus late last night. It now heads to the Senate and will likely receive expedited consideration, but the timing will be incredibly close to avoid a break in funding authority (hence the four-day CR). Expect the Senate to move slowly but it will pass, short of some incredible political grandstanding (which can’t be ruled out these days).

In conclusion, this is a very disappointing way to close out this fiscal year, particularly for NSF. While a four percent increase in previous years may have been something to celebrate – or at least not something to complain very loudly about – given the House and Senate proposed funding levels, the urgency around competitiveness, and the President’s budget request for the agency, hopes were considerably higher. When we add the impact of inflation, the four percent stops looking like an increase entirely and instead looks like we’re failing to keep pace with our current level of effort. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the importance of the investment in science and technology needed to remain competitive in an increasingly competitive world.

Looking ahead, we’re still waiting for the President to release his Fiscal Year 2023 request; we are now hearing it will be release by the end of this month but only as a “skinny” budget plan (meaning top line numbers and few details). And given that this is a mid-term election year, it’s safe to expect another slow budget process for FY23.

FY22 Update: Omnibus Numbers Released; NSF Fares Badly While Defense Research Does Well