Science Agencies Fare Well in 2017

More than halfway through Fiscal Year 2017, federal agencies finally have their appropriations. Signed into law on 5 May, the omnibus spending package slightly boosts spending at most science agencies. 

The National Science Foundation will receive $7.47 billion, an $8 million increase to be used for new ocean research vessels. Funding for the Education and Human Resources and Research and Related Activities Directorates are flat.  In good news for the geoscience community, the bill does not include any language regarding funding at the NSF directorate level; therefore, NSF has no restrictions on funding geoscience research.

The Department of Energy receives $31.2 billion, up $1.4 billion. DOE’s Office of Science sees an increase to $5.4 billion. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy receives $2.1 billion, up $17 million, and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which had been targeted for elimination by the new Administration, increases to $306 million.

The U.S. Geological Survey is appropriated $1.085 billion, a 2.2% increase, the bulk of which will go to increasing Earthquake Early Warning, a congressional priority in recent years.

Within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, which increased $17 million to $5.76 billion, Earth Science received flat funding of $1.92 billion, a mitigating large cuts that were proposed in the House spending bill, while Planetary Science increased $22 million to  $1.85 billion, contrasting cuts that were proposed by the Senate.

With only 5 months until the start of Fiscal Year 2018, the next appropriations process will soon heat up.  President Trump released a “skinny budget” back in March that provided some top line numbers for agencies.  EPA and NOAA would see large cuts; NSF wasn’t included.   A full budget is expected to be released in late May.

Meanwhile, House and Senate appropriators are already holding hearings and accepting testimony. GSA joined 130 institutions to submit testimony in support of NSF, NOAA and NASA that emphasize the contributions geosciences make to national security, economic competitiveness, and public safety. GSA also submitted its own testimony supporting NSF and NASA. In addition, GSA joined members of the Energy Sciences Coalition to submit testimony in support of research at DOE’s Office of Science.

– Kasey White