April 11, 2014 | The Obama Administration released its FY 2015 budget request on March 4, including plans and proposals for the federal science agencies that fund the atmospheric sciences. Among the most important agencies and line offices for the atmospheric sciences are the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.
You’ll find additional detail regarding the numbers discussed below in the tables and graphs in the Budgets section of our website.
The Administration’s proposal is a mixed bag for the atmospheric sciences, with some agencies and programs that fund the atmospheric sciences being slated for cuts and others for modest increases. The total proposal for Federal R&D funds across all science and technology sectors is $135 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion or 1.2 percent over FY 2014. Within that amount, the Administration targets investments in certain R&D priority areas, including global change research, which would receive a 0.5 percent increase over FY 2014 levels, and science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) education, which would receive a 3.7 percent increase.
NSF Research would receive flat funding, NOAA a 3.3 percent increase, NASA Science a 3.5 percent reduction, and the DOE Office of Science a 0.9 percent increase over FY 2014 levels. Most of these changes in R&D priorities and core science agencies amount to flat funding or reductions in funding after being adjusted for inflation.
In past years, the Administration exercised significant freedom in proposed funding levels for the science agencies, designating robust levels. This year the Administration was restrained by the spending limits imposed by the December 2013 congressional deal that President Obama signed into law. As a result, the Administration had to make difficult tradeoffs between priorities within the discretionary spending cap for FY 2015, and some science agencies and programs have suffered in the request as a result.
The modest increases or flat funding are also a reflection of a fiscal environment that remains constrained by the Budget Control Act of 2011. In FY 2014, federal discretionary spending as a portion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product reached its lowest point since before World War II. And although the recent congressional deal provided some temporary sequester relief to the discretionary agencies for FY 2014 and FY 2015, Federal R&D in constant dollars continues to fall, extending a trend seen over the last ten years.
UCAR Government Relations tracks funding levels for federal programs and agencies relevant to the atmospheric sciences. If you have any questions or would like assistance with budget information or analysis for specific programs important to the atmospheric sciences, please contact Mike Henry in UCAR Government Relations.