Obama Budget Asks for 1% Boost in Research

The White House

One of the big three research agencies appears to be lagging behind its doubling peers in the president's 2013 budget request released this morning.

The $4.9 billion budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Science would rise by 2.4%, to $5 billion. In contrast, the National Science Foundation would receive a nearly 5% boost, to $7.37 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology a hike of 13%, to $860 million. These three agencies were originally singled by President George W. Bush in 2006 for a 10-year budget doubling, a promise that President Barack Obama and Congress have repeatedly endorsed despite the current tough economic times.

At the same time, any proposed increase represents a significant commitment by the Administration. The president and Congress have already agreed to spend $1.047 trillion on all discretionary programs for fiscal 2013, which begins on 1 October. That's a microscopic $4-billion rise over 2012 spending.

As a result, much of the president's budget delivers bad news to agencies. In contrast, Obama is asking for a 1% increase in overall federal spending on research, to $140 billion. Within that total, the White House seeks a similar 1% hike in the $30 billion devoted to basic research. Keep in mind, however, that last year Obama requested $148 billion for research, including nearly $33 billion for basic research.

The National Institutes of Health would also see its budget remain flat, at $30.7 billion, and NASA's budget would experience a $89 million dip, to $17.72 billion. Planetary sciences would feel the biggest hit within NASA's science mission directorate, losing 20%, to $1.2 billion. Within the Department of Energy, the 3-year-old Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get a 28% jump, to $350 million.

Highlighting his Administration's focus on jobs creation within his $3.8 trillion budget, the president touted a 3-year, $8 billion school-to-training program during a speech this morning at a community college in northern Virginia. The president has proposed similar multibillion-dollar programs in the past 2 years, but none have made it through Congress.