2011 Budgets Look Tight for NSF and DOE Science

Early word on President Barack Obama's plans for two important science agencies in 2011 is that White House budget officials are sticking to their guns—and that's bad news for scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

This week both agencies received an answer from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to their spending requests for the 2011 fiscal year that begins next October. Sources say that the numbers conform to what OMB projected last May for 2011 in the president's 2010 budget request (subscription required) for those two agencies. That document called for a 2.9% increase in 2011 for NSF, to $7.2 billion, and a 1.6% bump for the Department of Energy's science shop, to $5 billion.

Agencies still have the opportunity to appeal OMB's numbers, contained in what is called a "passback," before the 2011 budget is finalized in time for the president to present it to Congress on 1 February. But after this year's banquet for researchers, complements of the $787 billion stimulus package, 2011 is looking pretty meager.

And what about 2010? DOE's science programs received a 2.7% boost. NSF is still waiting for Congress to complete work on its 2010 budget, which is expected to contain an increase of about 6%.