Each summer, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides all federal Departments and agencies with guidance about Presidential priorities for inclusion in budgets submitted to the White House. OMB director Jacob Lew recently sent a memorandum to agency heads directing that they plan to submit fiscal year (FY) 2013 budgets to the White House that include a minimum of a five percent cut from enacted FY 2011 funding levels.

According to the memorandum, the reductions must be made through strategic cuts, not through across-the-board reductions. Agencies are also required to submit a list of additional cuts that would bring their total spending to 10 percent below FY 2011 levels.

“In light of the tight limits on discretionary spending starting in 2012, your 2013 budget submission to OMB should provide options to support the President’s commitment to cut waste and reorder priorities to achieve deficit reduction while investing in those areas critical to job creation and economic growth,” wrote Lew.

Although agency budgets would decline under the proposal, high priority programs that “enhance economic growth” could receive additional funding if agencies “eliminate low-priority and ineffective programs while consolidating duplicative ones; improve program efficiency by driving down operational and administrative costs; and support fundamental program reforms that generate the best outcomes per dollar spent.”

The reductions could begin to undo recent gains in federal investments in science. Most federal research programs had sizeable budget increases in FY 2009 and FY 2010, but many agencies saw their budgets stagnant or slightly decrease this year. For instance, funding for the National Science Foundation dropped by about 1 percent between FY 2010 and FY 2011.

Agencies are currently preparing FY 2013 budgets, which will not be made publically available until next February. Congress is still working on FY 2012 appropriations. The House has passed 6 of the 12 bills that would collectively fund the federal government next year. The Senate is expected to address appropriations in the fall.


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