Policy Analysis

Final FY ‘12 Budget Yields Better-than-Expected Results for Science

Congress recently passed the remaining nine appropriations bills to fund the government throughout Fiscal Year 2012 and the move was just in time as a continuing resolution funding the government expired at midnight on Dec. 16th.

While partisan politics was on full display throughout the process, key concessions from Republicans about policy riders and funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau paved the way toward common ground in reaching a final agreement.

Despite the treacherous political landscape, federal funding for science did as well as the previously passed Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. As with CJS, however, future funding levels are likely to decrease as the Budget Control Act mandates sequestrations to all federal accounts beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.

The nine appropriations bills passed include details on the funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Defense (DOD) Basic and Applied Research.

The breakdown of funding follows:
  • DOE Office of Science (Total) [$4.84B in FY11] – $4.89B (+0.96%)
    • Advanced Scientific Computing Research [$422M in FY11] – $442M (+4.74%)
    • Basic Energy Sciences [$1.68B in FY11] – $1.69B (+0.94%)
    • Biological and Environmental Research [$612M in FY11] – $612M (+0.0%)
    • Fusion Energy Sciences [$376M in FY11] – $402M (+7.12%)
    • High Energy Physics [$796M in FY11] – $792M (-0.47%)
    • Nuclear Physics [$540M in FY11] – $550M (+1.83%)
  • ARPA-E [$180M in FY11] – $275M (+53.08%)
  • EERE [$1.80B in FY11] – $1.82B (+1.64%)
  • NIH (Total) [$30.69B in FY11]* – $30.64B (+0.82%)
  • DOD 6.1 (Basic) [$1.95B in FY11] – $2.1B (+8.73%)
  • DOD 6.2 (Applied) [$4.45B in FY11] – $4.7B (+6.62%)

ARPA-E experienced a significant increase of 53% in funding while most other accounts were modestly increased. NIH technically received an increase due to restructuring of funding for contributions to the Global AIDS Project. One caveat is that all awarded grants from NIH must now reflect the uncertainty of multi-year funding – a sure sign of the uncertainty of future budgets.

Overall, this is good news for the science community. The efforts of the science community weighing in on these budget issues has certainly helped maintain robust federal funding.

*The $30.69B includes a $297M transfer to the Global Aids project, thus the actual FY11 NIH budget was $30.39B.


Policy news and viewpoints for the physics community. The analysis and opinions are those of the APS Office of Public Affairs and do not necessarily represent the entire Society.