Nearly three months after the 2010 fiscal year (FY) began, Congress has approved significant budget increases for several scientific agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF; 6.7 percent increase over FY 2009 appropriations, excluding the economic stimulus), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; 8.6 percent increase), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH; 3.3 percent increase). The budgets for these agencies passed the House of Representatives and the Senate as part of a package of six appropriations bills (HR 3288) that were signed into law by President Obama on 16 December 2009.

The $6.926 billion budget for NSF will keep the agency on a path to budget doubling over a ten year period. The Research and Related Activities (RR&A) accounts will receive most of the $436 million increase, with some of the funding increase going towards high-risk, high-reward basic research, ocean acidification research, support for 2,000 graduate fellowships, climate change education, and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The Education and Human Resources (HER) directorate will receive a $27.5 million increase, while the budget for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) will decline by $34.7 million.

The joint statement accompanying the bill calls for “formal reviews from both the NSF directorate and the Office of the Inspector General on the agency’s personnel management practices.” The Senate Appropriations Committee previously identified “systemic workforce management problems propagated from senior management creating a hostile work environment between Federal employees, rotational directors and the [Senior Executive Service]-level directorate,” and with the agency’s “enforcement of policies prohibiting gender discrimination, offensive work environments, and retaliation.” The joint statement also supported Senate language that addressed NSF grant management, calling for more performance evaluation of awarded grants.

Other science agencies included in the omnibus appropriations bill will also receive increased funding in FY 2010. NOAA will receive $4.7 billion, $372 million more than FY 2009, with some of the increase going to the Integrated Ocean Observing System ($7.1 million additional), ocean acidification research ($6.0 million additional), research on and management of marine protected species ($41.2 million additional), ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes research ($6.3 additional), and competitive climate research ($12.2 million additional). NIH will receive $31 billion, a $692 million increase. Of interest to some natural history museums, the Institute of Museum and Library Services will receive $282.3 million, a $7.4 million increase.


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