President Biden Releases High Level Budget Overview for Fiscal Year 2025; NSF Receives 12% Increase but with an Asterisk

Last week, the Biden Administration released a high-level overview of their $7.3 trillion budget request for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25). As has happened the last several years, the documents released contain only a few specific budgetary numbers and details. The document serves more as a summary of the President’s priorities for the assorted Executive branch departments and agencies. More detailed requests from some, but not all, agencies have been released, with more expected this week or next. As CRA has done in years past, as we dig into the details of agencies’ budget request, we will post our analysis to the Policy Blog.

One general note: the Biden Administration makes clear on the first page that this document was prepared before any FY24 funding legislation was passed into law. Therefore, the few comparisons that are made in the document were against previous fiscal years, mostly against FY23. Since we now have some (but not all) of the Fiscal Year 2024 accounts settled, CRA will be able to make a FY24 to FY25 comparison for certain accounts.

Many of the general themes of this budget proposal are the same as with previous budgets from the Biden Administration. Regular readers of the Policy Blog will recall the R&D priorities memo that OSTP released over the summer. The Administration continues to focus on advancing trustworthy artificial intelligence; climate change; scientific innovation in critical and emerging technologies; and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. According to the Administration, their request will invest, “$20 billion across major research agencies, an increase of $1.2 billion above the 2023 level, to boost American innovation and re-establish American leadership in research and scientific discovery.”

At a very high level, the President’s FY25 proposal calls for $900 billion for defense-related programs, which is $16 billion more than current levels (or a 1.8 percent increase), and $1029 billion (or $1.02 trillion) for domestic spending, which is $28 billion more than FY24 (or a 2.8 percent increase). These numbers are taken from Table S-4 on page 141 of the Administration’s request. Keep in mind that roughly 60 percent of the FY24 budget (ie: last year’s budget) has not been approved by Congress yet, so a real year-to-year comparison is not possible yet.

Knowing the different defense versus non-defense spending pots is important because of the May budget agreement that President Biden and then House Speaker McCarthy agreed to, and passed into law. It sets specific funding targets for these types of spending. According to the deal, both spending categories are only supposed to increase by 1 percent each for FY25. At this time, it’s unclear if President Biden has kept to the agreement or not. However, at least for the Defense Department, they are asserting that this request does conform to the law and is a near zero-growth budget.

Let’s get into the details:

National Science Foundation: Topline $10.2 billion, an increase of $1.14 billion, or 12.6 percent, over FY24 levels. While that is a good number, and an increase over the steep cut that Congress just approved for NSF, it is also roughly a billion dollars less than what the Administration requested for the agency a year ago. This is very much a reflection of the difficult budget environment we are in and how constrained the Administration is with the previously mentioned May budget agreement.

The President’s plans call for NSF to play a key role in, “strengthening U.S. leadership in artificial intelligence (AI) and other critical emerging technologies; boosting research and development, including for combating the climate crisis; supporting the Nation’s research infrastructure; advancing equity while promoting education and workforce development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and increasing research security and oversight.”

Numbers for Research and Related Activities (RRA) and the STEM Education Directorate (EDU) were not included in the initial release. Likewise, the topline number for the CISE Directorate was not provided. However, many topics that fall under CISE’s mission do get mentioned. As an example, artificial intelligence continues to be an issue of major importance to the Biden Administration, with multiple references to agencies and departments cited for implementing the October Executive Order on AI.

A topline number was released for the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate. TIP would receive $900 million under the President’s plan. It’s not yet possible to tell if that is an increase or not for TIP, over last year’s levels. We will have to wait for NSF to release their spending plans for FY24 before we know. It would constitute an increase of $20 million over the Directorate’s FY23 budget. The Administration cites a larger increase in their document, which is due to the difference of baseline vs total from how FY23 was approved by Congress (CRA, where possible, is comparing total funding, FY24 versus FY25).


Department of Energy, Office of Science: Topline $8.6 billion, an increase of $360 million or 4.4 percent over FY24 levels. Details for the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, home to most of SCs computing research programs, and the Advanced Research Project Agency -Energy (ARPA-E) were not included. And similar to NSF’s request, this year’s proposed topline budget is about $200 million less than the Administration requested for DOE SC last year.

The budget document identifies several areas that the department plans to focus its investments: “cutting-edge research at the national laboratories and universities as well as building and operating world-class scientific user facilities; identifying and accelerating novel technologies for clean energy solutions; improving predictability of climate trends and extremes using high performance computing; providing new computing insight through quantum information; and positioning the United States to meet the demand for isotopes.”


NASA: Topline $25.4 billion, an increase of $500 million or 2.0 percent over FY24 levels. The justification for the space agency’s FY25 budget is for, “exploring the Moon with U.S. and international partner astronauts; understanding the Earth system; conducting a broad space science program consisting of multiple exciting missions; and transitioning from a Government-led to commercially-led space stations.” Details for the NASA Science budget were not included.

As with the previously mentioned agencies, this request is below what the Biden Administration asked for a year ago. In their FY24 request the President called for a $27.2 billion topline for NASA, almost $2 billion more than they are for FY25.


Agencies toplines not Included in initial release:

  • National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)

What happens now? More details for several agencies have been released, with others expected this week. After that, the budget process heads to both chambers of Congress for deliberations. While these initial numbers look relatively good, it’s important to keep our expectations in check. The majority of FY23 still needs to be settled by Congress, who have a Friday March 22nd deadline.

Additionally, this FY25 is expected to be very long and rocky; possibly even more so than FY23 (if that’s possible). The Republican led House of Representatives has not changed; in fact, their majority has shrunk, which will make passing any legislation even harder. With this being a Presidential election year, the assumption here in Washington is that FY25 will be punted until after that election. It is even likely final consideration of the budget will be pushed into the 2025 calendar year. Again, we should expect a very long budget process.

CRA will continue tracking developments at every stage of the process. We will also have our normal detailed dives into specific agency’s requests, so be sure to check back for more information.

President Biden Releases High Level Budget Overview for Fiscal Year 2025; NSF Receives 12% Increase but with an Asterisk