2010 Science Budget: That Stimulus Is Going a Long Way

Fans of U.S. scientific research will have a lot to be happy about in the 2010 budget proposal released today by President Barack Obama. But with legislators concerned about the budget's impact on a trillion-dollar deficit, the $21 billion in stimulus cash awarded to science agencies in February is sure coming in handy. Compared with the spending plan passed by Congress for this year, the levels in the proposal Obama released today are flat or provide only slight increases for most science agencies. But any suggestion of a drooping science budget next year is "illusory," said White House science adviser John Holdren at a briefing that ended earlier, noting that the federal commitment to science stands at a record level thanks to the boost from the stimulus package and regular appropriations.

The National Institutes of Health, for example, is slated for a 1.4% increase over fiscal year 2009, growing its budget to $31.0 billion. But that excludes the $10.4 billion in stimulus funds that NIH got. Cancer research across NIH, however, would receive a 5% bump, to $6 billion as part of an effort to double research on this disease over 8 years.

More after the jump, and detailed entries soon on each of the major agencies.

Those in the physical sciences should be as pleased as their biomedical colleagues are because Obama proposed to increase the Department of Energy's Office of Science from $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion, again, not taking into account the gaudy $1.6 billion awarded in February, which must be spent by next year. DOE's total includes $280 million for setting up eight so-called Energy Innovation Hubs, to be funded at $25 million per year, which would each focus on one specific area, including solar fuels and nuclear energy.

The National Science Foundation did particularly well, with a request of $7.04 billion, an 8.5% jump over the $6.5 billion it received in 2009. That increase would keep it on course to achieve a promised budget doubling within a decade. The foundation's six research directorates would receive a 10% boost, to $5.73 billion, and its education programs would inch up by 1.5%, to $858 million. NSF officials don't plan to release details until next week's meeting of the National Science Board, which oversees it.

The overall budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would rise by $100 million, to $4.5 billion under Obama's proposal. Its research budget of $568 million includes a $12 million rise in competitive climate research, to $144 million. At EPA, Obama has proposed a science and technology increase of 6.6%, while USGS would see a 5.2% increase for the agency as a whole.