APS News

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: Science Research Budgets
On February 1st, President Obama released his annual Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11). In light of fiscal and political realities, the request is extremely good for science.

In mid-January, President Obama announced a three-year freeze on most non-security discretionary spending. Science received one of the very few non-security waivers. Although the waiver keeps the physical sciences on pace with the Administration’s prior ten-year doubling commitment, it means that science will have to defend its budgetary turf on Capitol Hill against advocates for other programs and agencies that fared less well in the presidential request.

The following summarizes the presidential request for the key science agencies:

National Science Foundation (NSF): Up 8% from FY10 enacted levels to $7.4 billion in FY11. The request keeps the Foundation on its ten-year doubling, as authorized by the America COMPETES Act (Public Law 110-69).

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Core: Up 7.3% from FY10 enacted levels to $709 million in FY11. The NIST Core budget comprises the Scientific & Technical Research and Services (STRS) and Construction of Research Facilities (CRS). The STRS request is $584.5 million, an increase of 13.5% from 2010; the CRS request is $124.8 million, a decrease of 15.1% from 2010. The request keeps the NIST Core program on its America COMPETES ten-year doubling path.

Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC):
Up 4.4% from FY10 enacted levels to $5.1 billion in FY11. Adjusted for congressionally-directed projects (commonly referred to as “earmarks”), which are never included in presidential requests, DOE SC would receive a 6.1% increase over FY10 levels. In FY 11, the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) program would be expanded to capture emerging opportunities in new materials and basic research for energy. The DOE budget would continue funding for one SC Energy Innovation Hub, as well as two Energy Research Hubs. The presidential budget would also provide funding for one new Hub on batteries and energy storage.

Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
: The request contains $300 million to support transformational discoveries and accelerate solutions in the development of clean energy.

NASA Science: The FY11 request for NASA reflects a dramatic reorientation of the agency’s budget. The FY11 budget would eliminate funding for Project Constellation, a program focused on developing a rocket system to return Americans to the Moon. The FY11 budget would replace Constellation with a research and development program to support future heavy-lift rockets that would eventually enable travel to Mars. The presidential budget would also provide NASA Science with a significant increase: 12%, or $537 million, over the FY10 enacted level, to $5.0 billion in FY11. Earth Science, up 27% to $1.8 billion, would be the primary beneficiary, in line with the Administration’s emphasis on climate change research. Planetary Science would rise 11% to $1.5 billion, while Astrophysics and Heliophysics would both decline, 3% to $1.1 billion in the case of Astrophysics and 2% to $642 million in the case of Heliophysics.

Both chambers of Congress will begin work on FY11 appropriations shortly. Be sure to check the APS Washington Office’s Blog, Physics Frontline (http://physicsfrontline.aps.org/), for the latest news on the FY11 Budget.

ISSUE: POPA Activities
POPA approved the release of the National Security Subcommittee’s report titled Technical Steps to Support Nuclear Arsenal Downsizing. Public release of the report occurred at a press conference held mid-February and an electronic version is now available on the APS website.

The Energy Critical Elements Study, which will examine the scarcity of critical elements for new energy technologies, will hold its first meeting in April of 2010 at MIT. Study committee members include: Robert Jaffe, MIT; Jonathan Price, University of Nevada; Gerbrand Ceder, MIT; Rod Eggert, Colorado School of Mines; Thomas Graedel, Yale; Karl Gschneidner, Iowa State University; Murray Hitzman, Colorado School of Mines; Frances Houle; Alan Hurd, LANL; Alex King, Ames Laboratory; Delia Milliron, LBNL; Brian Skinner, Yale.

The Electric Grid Study, which seeks to examine the technical challenges and priorities for increasing the amount of renewable electricity on the grid, will hold its second workshop in late February, 2010.  

If you have suggestions for a POPA study, please visit Suggestions for APS Policy Studies and send in your ideas.

ISSUE: Media Update
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote an op-ed titled, “(Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” on Jan. 23, calling for President Obama to focus on science and innovation to help jumpstart the economy.

Log on to the APS Office of Public affairs website for more information.

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Editor: Alan Chodos