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Funding for FY2013 Complete; FY2014 Underway

On 26 March, halfway through the fiscal year (FY), appropriations for FY2013 were finally signed into law. This legislation locked in sequestration cuts of about 5% for non-defense discretionary spending, resulting in an $8.7 billion cut to defense and nondefense R&D.

For FY2013, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will see an approx. 5% decrease from FY2012 levels. The USGS suspended all travel through April and has announced they will have reductions in grants, reduced R&D, and 350–375 stream gages that will not deliver information. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will see a decline of approx. 3%. In a memo, NSF stated that it would prioritize existing grants and contracts, the NSF workforce, and STEM education programs. Therefore, the greatest impact will be seen in new grant awards. Although it was still subject to sequestration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fared better than most agencies in FY2013. NOAA received $300 million in added funds from Hurricane Sandy relief legislation that helped offset some cuts, and the agency was provided flexibility to address needs in its satellite programs when applying the reductions. Meanwhile, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has suspended all education and public outreach programs pending further review.

Help GSA quantify the impacts of sequestration on the geosciences by participating in AGI’s online survey on sequestration.

Because of the delay in finalizing FY2013 appropriations, the Administration’s FY2014 budget request was not released until 10 April, and comparisons are made to FY2012 levels, not FY2013. The process is now in the hands of Congress, which has begun hearings on the budget request.

The request contains a proposal to restructure the current 226 federal STEM education programs into 112 through program consolidation and elimination. Instead of having education programs within mission agencies, the Department of Education would lead K–12 programs; NSF would focus on undergraduate and graduate education; and the Smithsonian would lead public outreach. The reaction on Capitol Hill to this proposal has not been positive.

Overall, non-defense R&D would increase with the request. NSF would receive $7.6 billion (+ 8%) and the Geosciences Directorate would receive a 5.5% increase. DOE’s Office of Science would receive $5.2 billion (+ 6%). Within NASA, Earth Science and the James Webb Space Telescope would see increases, while Planetary Science would decrease.

The FY2014 USGS request is $1.2 billion, a 9% increase over FY2012. In the mission areas, Climate and Land Use Change would receive $156 million, a 10% increase. Increases in the Climate Variability subaccount are included for climate research and development and biological carbon sequestration. Within the Land Use Change subaccount, Landsat would receive $53.3 million. After the successful February 2013 launch of the Landsat Data Continuing Missions/Landsat 8 Ground System, USGS will work with NASA to develop a successor mission and continue its role managing the collection, archiving, and dissemination of Landsat data. Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health funding would increase 12% to $107.4 million, with increases slated for rare earth elements and critical minerals research. Similar to FY2013, the request would cut $5 million from mineral information, resources, research, and assessment. The Natural Hazards budget would increase $11.4 million to $142.6 million. The budget request contains increases for improving rapid response to disasters, research on East Coast earthquakes, and coastal storm response capability. Water Resources funding would increase 6% to $222.9 million, with stream gages receiving large increases and cuts proposed for Water Resources Research Act programs. Core Science Systems would increase $22.9 million to $137.2 million, with increases slated for national cooperative geologic mapping and data preservation programs. Ecosystems would receive $180 million, a 14% increase.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would see a 3.5% decline from its FY2012 enacted level. The Science and Technology account, which funds most of EPA R&D, would decrease 1.4% to $784 million. EPA’s request includes $8 million to assess potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on air quality, water quality, and ecosystems, a study jointly conducted with USGS and Department of Energy. EPA also will release a report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water in late 2014.

NOAA’s FY2014 budget request is $5.4 billion, an 11% increase over FY2012. NOAA focused its budget on “restoring balance” between oceanic and atmospheric missions, internal and external funding, and immediate needs and long-term goals. One aspect of this rebalancing is the $1 billion decrease in the life cycle funding for Joint Polar Satellite System, the budget for which would decrease 10% to $824 million in FY2014. The request would increase NOAA’s R&D by 27.7% to $733 million.

GSA members are invited to speak to the importance of science funding during Geoscience Congressional Visits Day (GEO-CVD) on 17–18 September 2013. Contact GSA Director for Geoscience Policy Kasey White for additional information.

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