APS News

Washington Dispatch


FY15 CRomnibus passes, Science funding mostly increased
The Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) Appropriations Act passed the House 219-206 (10 abstaining) and passed the Senate 56-40 (4 abstaining) at the close of the 113th Congress. It was signed by President Obama and became public law on December 16, 2014. The bill, termed a CRomnibus, is part Continuing Resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security combined with 11 bills packed into an “omnibus” that provides funding and guidance to all other agencies. In general, science fared well.

The bill funded the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.34B in FY15 (+2.4% relative to FY14) with Research and Related Activities at $5.93B (+2.1%) and Education and Human Resources at $866M (+2.3%).

The bill left the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science funding unchanged relative to FY14 at $5.07B. There were significant differences in how the bill treated Office of Science sub accounts: Advanced Scientific Computing Research rose to $541M (+13.2%), Biological and Environmental Research decreased to $592M (-3.0%), Basic Energy Sciences increased slightly to $1.73B (+1.1%), Fusion Energy Sciences declined substantially to $467M (-7.7%), High Energy Physics also declined to $766M (-3.9%), and Nuclear Physics rose appreciably to $595M (+4.6%).

DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [$1.92B (+1.0%)], DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency [$280M (0.0%)], and the National Nuclear Security Administration [$11.41B (+1.8%)] all remained fairly static.

The bill funded the National Institute of Standards and Technology at $864M (+1.6%) with Scientific and Technical Research and Services at $676M (+3.8%), Industrial Technology Services at $138M (-3.4%), and Construction of Research Facilities at $50M (-10.2%).

The National Institutes of Health remained fairly flat at $30.1B (+0.5%).

The Department of Defense Basic Research, also known as 6.1, rose to $2.28B (+5.1%) whereas DOD Applied Research, known as 6.2, fell slightly to $4.61B (-0.9%).

The Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy received flat funding relative to FY14, at $5.5M.

Appropriations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) increased to $18.0B (+2.1%) with NASA Science funded at $5.24B (+1.8%).

With FY15 in the books, and Republicans now controlling both chambers, it is more likely that Congress will return to regular order and pass all 12 appropriations bills for FY16.

Upcoming Legislation
There will be a few major pieces of legislation of interest to the science community in the 114th Congress. In education, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the new chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has made authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) a priority, with the Higher Education Act (HEA) to follow. The first draft version of ESEA, recently made public, retains science testing, along with math and English testing. Markup of the draft is expected in early February.

While the future looks bright for ESEA and HEA, re-authorization of America COMPETES looks much bleaker. COMPETES is likely to be split into two bills as it was last year; FIRST for NSF and NIST and EINSTEIN for DOE. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, does not appear to be backing down on controversial policy provisions that previously stalled COMPETES re-authorization, specifically policy provisions pertaining to NSF. Hill staffers expect those policy provisions to be non-starters for House and Senate members who support NSF.



In his January 6 Roll Call column, Director of Public Affairs Michael S. Lubell suggests a research bank to help stabilize science funding and ameliorate shortfalls.
Gray Arrow Read the column

A January 5 Wall Street Journal article chronicles the uphill battle science advocates face as the number of congressional representatives with science backgrounds dwindles. Note: Article is behind a paywall.

ISSUE: Panel on Public Affairs

The draft Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate is being reviewed by the APS Board of Directors to determine whether it is ready to be sent to the APS membership for their comments. Information about the process can be found on the following webpage:
Gray Arrow Climate Change Statement Review

The POPA Physics & the Public Subcommittee continues its work on a survey on overcoming obstacles to recruiting teachers in the physical sciences. The Subcommittee is also overseeing two proposed APS Statements: a revision of the current APS Statement on Civic Engagement of Scientists (APS Statement 08.1) and a new statement on the Status of Women in Physics. Both are due for discussion at the next APS Board of Directors meeting.

The POPA National Security Subcommittee will present a proposal for a study, to be held in partnership with the Ploughshares Fund, on the non-weapons science being conducted at the nation’s defense laboratories. The subcommittee will also revisit the idea for an international workshop on reducing tactical nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The POPA Energy & Environment Subcommittee will present a proposal for a study examining ways to address the long-term challenges of helium supply and pricing. To address nearer-term challenges, the APS Office of Public Affairs is testing a “helium brokerage” pilot program to help APS members manage helium supply delays and price spikes.

POPA’s new leaders and members include: William Barletta (Chair), Julia Phillips (Chair Elect), Frances Houle (Vice Chair), Robert Jaffe (Past Chair), Laura Greene (APS Vice President), Mac Beasley (Physics Policy Committee Chair), Simon Bare, Evalyn Gates, Maggie Linak, Toni Taylor, Sara Case, and Dave Ginley.

To access a template for study proposals, along with a suggestion box for future POPA studies (APS members only), go to the member login page.

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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Michael Lucibella
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