Congress may have finished its work on the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget last month, but federal agencies are still scrambling to figure out what the Continuing Resolution that funds the government through September 2011 means for programs.

So far, federal science agencies generally have not released information to the public about the impacts of the nearly $40 billion cut by Congress in mid-April. While that legislation targets a number of programs for reductions, all agencies were subject to a 0.2 percent cut below FY 2010.

An analysis by the AIBS Public Policy Office found that the National Science Foundation (NSF) was cut by $67 million to $6.9 billion. This is more than half a billion dollars less than President Obama requested for the agency in FY 2011. Much of the reduction ($54 million) comes from the Research and Related Activities budget line. The Education and Human Resources budget account loses about $12 million. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account is funded at nearly the same level as in FY 2010, which is about $48 million dollars less than the agency requested. Since the program is not fully funded for FY 2011, some projects may be delayed; this could impact the start of construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network. No information is available yet regarding the budget for the Biological Sciences Directorate.

NSF’s one percent budget reduction was comparable to cuts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Energy Office of Science. NIH announced on 25 April that its one percent budget reduction would result in a comparable reduction in the size of ongoing research grants. Moreover, the size of grants awarded by the National Cancer Institute will decline by three percent. The agency also expects to make slightly fewer new awards for competitive research grants. (See for more information.)

Congress made even deeper cuts to the budgets of other science agencies. Funding for science and technology at the Environmental Protection Agency was reduced by 3.8 percent to $813 million. The United States Geological Survey received $1.08 billion, a $28 million cut (-2.5 percent).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was cut by 3.2 percent to $4.6 billion. The larger issue for NOAA, however, may be the nearly $1 billion in new funding that the agency requested but did not receive. These funds are needed for the continued development of weather and climate satellites.

Funding for competitive research grants at the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture also fell far short of the President’s budget request. The extramural grant program will receive about 40 percent less funding than requested.


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