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January 17, 2014

Appropriations Bill Moves Forward, Giving Federal Funding Agencies an Idea of Their Research Budgets

The House yesterday approved the FY14 omnibus appropriations package (H.R. 3547), which House and Senate appropriations leaders made public on January 13. The Senate is expected to follow suit later this week. But because the current FY14 continuing resolution expired last night, the Senate yesterday voted final congressional approval of a three-day funding extension that lasts through Saturday, January 18.

Federal programs that support university-based research received considerable relief from the FY13 sequester in the FY14 omnibus appropriations bill, with significant variation among agencies and programs.

While some agencies—such as the Department of Energy Office of Science and NASA Science—received more FY14 funding then their pre-sequester FY13 levels, some other agencies—such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation—were funded below their FY13 pre-sequester levels.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) The bill provides $29.9 billion for NIH, which is $827.4 million, or 2.8 percent, above the FY13 post-sequester level. However, in comparison to the FY13 level after transfers, NIH funding was increased by $1 billion, or 3.5 percent, but, again, remained below the FY13 pre-sequester level.

Within that total, the FY14 bill provides:

  • $100 million for Alzheimer's research, which is $20 million above the President's request;
  • $30 million for the new BRAIN Initiative; and
  • 273.3 million for the Institutional Development Award, an increase of $11.7 million above the FY13 post-sequester level.

Language is included to keep all current NIH Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education programs at the agency, despite the President's budget proposal to eliminate them in favor of a government-wide initiative.

The omnibus legislation retains the NIH salary cap at Executive Level II. Although NIH has not yet issued an official notice, the salary cap on NIH funded awards, tied by legislation to the Executive Level II salary level, is expected to increase to $181,500 in calendar year 2014. The one percent boost from the $179,700 level was included in an executive order issued by President Obama on December 23rd.

National Science Foundation (NSF) NSF would receive $7.172 billion in FY14, an increase of $288 million above the FY13 post-sequester level, but below the pre-sequester level. Within that total, the measure allocates $5.8 billion for Research and Related Activities and $846 million for Education.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA would receive $17.65 billion overall, an increase of $781 million above the FY13 post-sequester level. Within that total, the Science Mission Directorate would receive $5.151 billion, the Aeronautics Research Directorate would receive $566 million, Space Technology would receive $576 million, and education would receive $117 million, including $40 million for the Space Grant program.

The measure also prevents NASA or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from participating in bilateral activities with China, unless authorized by Congress.

Department of Defense Overall research and development at the Department of Defense would be cut by nearly $7 billion from the FY13 post-sequester level, but basic and applied research funding would increase. Funding for 6.1 basic research would be $2.167 billion, or $64 million above the FY13 post-sequester level, and funding for 6.2 applied research would be $4.542 billion.

Department of Energy (DOE) The DOE Office of Science would receive about $5 billion, which is a $450-million increase above the FY13 post-sequester level. Likewise, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $280 million, which is $15.5 million above the FY13 post-sequester level.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) NEH would be level-funded at $146 million, as would its companion agency, the National Endowment for the Arts.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) The Department's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive $316 million, which is $40 million above the FY13 post-sequester level.

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Posted: January 17, 2014