Funding Increases for NSF, NIH and DOE in Fiscal 2007

The fiscal 2007 federal budget was finally signed into law by President Bush on February 15. The law makes permanent most of the funding amounts in the continuing resolution passed by Congress in December 2006 that essentially froze agency and program budgets at fiscal 2006 levels. However, Congress did provide funding increases for selected programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Commerce (DOC) (see table, page 6).

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), under the budget for fiscal 2007, funding for basic and applied research increased a scant 0.2% to $56.8 billion. Although total R&D funding increased 3.4% to $139.9 billion, the increase is intended for defense and space research. Total funding for R&D facilities and capital equipment fell 5.4% to $4.1 billion. However, the AAAS notes that the elimination of congressional earmarks by the bill makes those previously designated monies available for R&D programs.

National Science Foundation

The AAAS estimates that NSF R&D funding increased 7.0% to $4.5 million in the fiscal 2007 US budget and that it now accounts for 76% of the agency’s total budget. However, the budget for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction was flat. The only area of the agency to receive its full budget-request increase was Research & Related Activities (RRA), whose budget rose 7.7% to $4.7 billion. Among the programs that are partially funded by RRA and would receive budget increases under the NSF’s fiscal 2007 request are the following: the Long-Term Research Sites, which requested a 0.5% increase in its RRA funding to $19.7 million; the Research Opportunity Awards, which requested a 6.7% increase in its RRA funding to $24.7 million; and Science and Technology Centers, which requested a 7.6% increase in its RRA funding to $67.5 million.

Department of Energy

Within the DOE, the Office of Science received a 5.6% increase in funding, bringing its budget to $3.8 billion. The AAAS estimates that the Office’s R&D funding rose 6.0% to $3.5 billion. Among the areas funded by the Office are high-energy physics, biological and environmental research, basic energy sciences and small business innovation research. The increase secures funding for the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and the National Synchrotron Light Source II, among other programs. The Office initially requested a 14.1% increase for FY07 to $4.1 billion, including a 22.1% increase to $50.9 million for science laboratories infrastructure.

The AAAS reports that R&D for DOE energy programs grew 16% to $1.5 billion. The increase included an over 30% rise in funding for renewable energy research and $50 million for research on the extraction of oil and gas from deepwater. In addition, $129 million that was previously earmarked is now available for other DOE research.

National Institutes of Health

The US’ fiscal 2007 budget increased NIH funding by 2.2% to $29.2 billion. Congress estimates that the increase will fund 500 additional research grants and 1,500 first-time researchers. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology estimates that an additional 970 research grants can be funded due to the increase.

R&D funding for the NIH grew 7.0% to $4.0 billion, according to the AAAS. Within the NIH, the Office of the Director received the largest budget increase. Funding for the Office rose 108% to $1.1 billion. This amount includes $483 million for the Common Fund, which funds research involving multiple institutes, as specified in the National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006 passed last December (see IBO 12/31/06). As a result, monies that the individual Institutes and Centers would have had to contribute to the Fund are now available for the Institutes and Centers. The AAAS estimates that these free monies increase the Institutes and Centers’ budgets by 1.2%. The Office of the Director also received $40 million for the new Junior Pioneer Award, as well as an additional $91 million to support new investigators. Congress specified a 3.1% increase for the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), bringing its fiscal 2007 budget to $1.1 billion. The NCRR provides grants for new instrumentation purchases, the development of new technologies and methods, and research facilities.

National Institute of Standards and Technologies

The AAAS estimates that the fiscal 2007 budget increased the NIST’s R&D by 9.6% to $464 million. Funding for NIST laboratories increased 10% to $345 million. Total R&D for the Department of Commerce rose 3.8% to $1.1 billion. The Scientific and Technical Research and Services’ budget rose 9.6% to $433 million, and the Advanced Technology Program, for which the Bush Administration had requested no monies, received $79.0 milllion. However, funding for Construction of Research Facilities fell 6.6% to $58.7 million.

Other Agencies

With stagnant budgets for fiscal 2007, the news for other agencies that provide significant funding for laboratory research is not good. The AAAS estimates that the research budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is flat at $600 million. However, previously earmarked monies of up to $33 million will be available to fund other programs. Similarly, approximately $9 million in monies that had been earmarked are now available to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Research Initiative. But the elimination of earmarks cut funding for Special Research Grants and the Agriculture Research Service. Overall, the R&D budget for the USDA declined 7.5% to $2.3 billion, according to the AAAS.

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