Department of Energy FY 2025 Request: Office of Science Would Receive a Good Budget Under the President’s Plan; ASCR Fares Well

In our continuing series analyzing the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget request to Congress, we turn to the Department of Energy. Specifically, we are looking at the two key parts of DOE that are of concern to the computing community: the Office of Science (SC), home to most of the agency’s basic research support, and ARPA-E, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

Readers should note that when the Department of Energy prepared their budget request for this year, they did not have a completed FY24 budget to compare their request against. That means their budget documents will compare this year’s request against the FY23 budget, which was the last approved budget they had. Since Congress has now completed Fiscal Year 2024, CRA is able to do a FY24 Final to FY25 Request comparison.

The President’s FY25 request for DOE SC is $8.60 billion, which is an increase of $360 million, or 4.4 percent, compared to the approved FY24 level of $8.24 billion. The requested budget goes to, “implement the Administration’s objectives to advance bold, transformational leaps in U.S. Science and Technology (S&T), build a diverse and inclusive workforce of the future, and ensure America remains the global S&T leader for generations to come.” Additionally, the request, “increases investments in…basic research on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), climate change and clean energy, including additional funding for the SC Energy Earthshots, and efforts to support underserved communities through the Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) and Funding for Accelerated, Inclusive Research (FAIR) initiatives.”

Within the Office of Science account, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program – home to most of SCs computing research efforts – would fare well. The program would be funded at $1.15 billion, which is an increase of $130 million, or 12.7 percent, over FY24 levels. Unlike the last several years of budget requests for ASCR, the Exascale Computing Project line-item has completed its work and is no longer a line item within the program’s budget. The $77 million that was in the Exascale line item is now transferred over to the ASCR research budget line, along with an additional $69 million. There is also the High Performance Data Facility construction line item, which receives $16 million for the year. All three of those account for the all of the budgetary line items within ASCR’s budget. In terms of research areas, ASCR’s request focuses heavily on AI, exascale computing, and quantum as topics of importance to the program.

As for ARPA-E, the agency would see a slight cut for FY25. Under the President’s plan ARPA-E would receive $450 million, a decrease of $10 million over last year, or 2.2 percent. The request has, “an emphasis on maintaining a healthy portfolio of projects,” which include, “a growing focus on additional scale-up of the most promising projects that have demonstrated success in technical development, project management, and definition of commercial pathways.”

ARPA-E’s poor budget request is likely an outcome of two things. First, ARPA-E escaped the last budgetary year with a relatively small cut; DOE may have expected a worse budget for FY24 and expected a FY25 to be an improvement.

But it’s more likely because of the budgetary constraints that the Administration is working under from the May 2023 budget agreement with Congress, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act. As a reminder, that law splits all federal spending into two pots, Defense and NonDefense, and limits the increase of those pots of spending to 1 percent for FY25. As with the just passed FY24 budget, this creates a harsh, zero-sum budgetary environment. The Administration is likely prioritizing the fundamental sciences in the Office of Science accounts and that comes with a relatively flat funding for the applied research at APRA-E. In short, tough budget decisions.

FY23 FY24 FY25 PBR $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $8.10B $8.24B $8.60B +$360M +4.4%
ASCR $1.07B $1.02B $1.15B +$130M +12.7%
ARPA-E $470M $460M $450M -$10M -2.2%

What are the next steps for the budget? Technically the process goes to Congress in order for both chambers to work out their own funding plans. However, it is important to keep our expectations in check for this year. It is already expected that Congress will not finish FY25 on time (by October 1st). In fact, the expectation here in Washington is the budget won’t be voted on until after the November Presidential election at the earliest, and likely not until the 2025 calendar year. And the outcome of that election will heavily influence how FY25 is finalized. But even without the timeline issues, the constraints on the budget by the aforementioned Fiscal Responsibility Act will create significant problems for the science policy community and the nation’s researchers this year.

There is still a lot of time between now and the end of the fiscal year; we will have to let events play out before we know for certain what will happen. Please keep checking the CRA Policy Boog for more updates.

Department of Energy FY 2025 Request: Office of Science Would Receive a Good Budget Under the President’s Plan; ASCR Fares Well