A month or two ago, the science community was fearing the dreaded continuing resolution for a number of science agencies—a flat budget for the rest of 2009 basically following the previous year's flat budget. How the winds of change have blown through Washington. From the weekly newsletter of D.C.–based Ocean Leadership, the words of President Bob Gagosian:
I didn't think there could be a more active week in Washington than last week. Then there was this week. After half a year of inaction on the appropriations front, the federal spending gates have opened up wide. The federal agencies are currently working on their spending plans for the $878 billion stimulus bill that was signed into law, including $3 billion for NSF and $830 million for NOAA. This week the House passed a FY09 omnibus spending bill which includes a 7% increase for NSF (details below). Yesterday, President Obama released an outline for his FY10 budget (details below), which provides approximately an 8% increase over the expected final NSF FY09 number (pending Senate passage next week). So, given that we are already almost six months into the fiscal year; the agencies will be challenged to allocate their resources by the end of the fiscal year. On the other hand, it is a nice challenge considering the continuing resolution alternative.
Also, this week President Obama made his third (and hopefully final) selection for Commerce Secretary, tapping former Washington Governor Gary Locke. Given that NOAA constitutes 60% of the Commerce Department budget, it is very promising to have someone like Governor Locke nominated as Secretary. He is very familiar with NOAA and has been supportive of ocean issues in general.