Roundup of FY2023 Research Agency Requests: Generally Good Numbers for the Budget Requests for NIST, NIH, and NASA, with Some Caveats

In our continuing series following the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request, we close out with a roundup of an assortment of Federal research agencies. These include the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NASA. All three agencies received good requests, though there are some details that make the final assessments more nuanced.

First, let’s look at NASA. Under the President’s plan, the space agency would receive an 8.3 percent increase, going from $24.00 billion in FY22 to $26.00 billion in FY23. NASA Science, which handles the research funding at the agency, would get an increase though not as good: 5.1 percent, going from $7.60 billion in FY22 to $7.99 billion in FY23.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NASA Total $22.27B $24.00B $26.00B +$2.00B +8.3%
Science $7.30B $7.60B $7.99B +$390M +5.1%

The next agency, NIST, is one of the big winners under the Biden Administration’s budget request. The top line for the agency would see a large increase of 20 percent, going from $1.23 billion in FY22 to $1.48 billion in FY23. The institutes’ Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would see an only slightly smaller increase of 15 percent; going from $850 million in FY22 to $975 million in FY23.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.03B $1.23B $1.48B +$250M +20%
STRS $788M $850M $975M +$125M +15%

Finally, we come to the National Institutes of Health, the research agency request which has that nuance. Under the President’s plan, the agency would go from $44.96 billion in FY22 to $49.04 billion in FY23, an increase of $4.08 billion or 9.1 percent. The nuance comes in with the proposed budget for ARPA-H, or Advanced Research Project Agency, Health. Established in the 2022 Omnibus, ARPA-H would go from its initial budget of $1 billion in FY22 to $5 billion for FY23. According to the President’s plan, the program would be a part of NIH; that would mean its $4 billion increase would be the vast majority of the larger agency’s increase, leaving the other parts of NIH to receive flat funding or slight cuts.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NIH Total $42.90B $44.96B $49.04B +$4.08B +9.1%
ARPA-H NA $1.0B $5.0B +$4.0B +500%

ARPA-H is likely to have a complicated year, from a policy perspective. While it was established in last year’s Omnibus, it still will require an authorization bill (ie: policy bill) to establish its operations. There is currently a legislative fight brewing over where the agency will be located, bureaucratically and physically. The Administration wants ARPA-H under NIH, while several Congressional leaders want it to be independent of NIH’s culture (and NIH’s physical location in Bethesda, MD) and under the Department of Health & Human Services. Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra has suggested a compromise where ARPA-H would be located within NIH but its director would report directly to the Secretary of Health; the Secretary recently issued a noticed in the Federal Register implementing this compromise. It will be interesting to see Congress’ reaction to this action.

ARAP-H is a major priority of the Biden Administration this year, as well as several members of Congress, so we can expect to see some wheeling and dealing as the year progresses. But we’ll have to let this process play out before we know how things will finally fall.

As with the other research accounts we’ve profiled, with the exception of the defense research accounts, these are a great place for the budget process to start. However, it’s worthwhile to temper expectations, as it is unlikely that all these increases will pass Congress as proposed (see: 2022 Omnibus). But, as with last year’s budget requests, it’s great to see scientific research be given this level of support.

Next steps in the FY23 budget process are for each chamber of Congress to come up with their individual funding plans. That process is beginning in earnest and should get into full swing by the beginning of the summer. We’ll have updates as those bills become public; keep checking back for more information.