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Science Sees Increases in FY 14 Funding Bill

At long last, the appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) were signed into law on January 17, 2014. When signing the bill, President Obama noted, “[W]e now have a bill that will … make sure that we are doing everything we need to do to advance our research agenda in this country and innovate.”

The House and Senate overwhelming approved the FY14 funding bill that provides increases for most science agencies over FY13 levels. The legislation follows the framework set in December’s Bipartisan Budget Act that capped discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion, $45 billion above the sequestration levels. While the news of an increase is welcome, many programs are still below FY12 spending levels, particularly when inflation is considered. Preliminary analysis, including comparisons with FY13 sequester level funding, is below.

The legislation takes issue with the proposed reorganization of STEM education programs in last year’s budget requests: “While the Congress is supportive of attempts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in Federal STEM education programs, the proposed reorganization of these programs contained in the budget request was incomplete and lacked sufficient detail. The proposal contained no clearly defined implementation plan, had no buy-in from the education community and failed to sufficiently recognize or support a number of proven, successful programs. Accordingly, the agreement does not adopt the reorganization; all STEM activities are funded in their existing programmatic structures unless explicitly noted otherwise elsewhere ... OSTP shall reexamine other possible reorganizations of Federal STEM programs for consideration in a future fiscal year after engaging in an inclusive development process (involving the interagency community and major external stakeholders).”

The legislation also codifies restrictions on federal conferences and travel. It states that no more than 50 employees from a federal department or agency can attend an international conference and sets reporting requirements for agency conferences.

As agencies begin to work out how they will allocate their appropriation for the remaining 8 months of the fiscal year, planning for FY2015 will soon begin with the release of the Administration’s FY2015 budget request.

— Kasey White
GSA Director for Geoscience Policy