May 9, 2016
Welcome back for the next round of federal science funding reporting. As you may recall from last week’s post, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed two appropriations bills in April, and today we’ll be focusing on the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) spending bill – the bill that funds NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies. We covered NASA last week, and this week we have the information on NOAA and NSF. Let’s dive right in.
- NOAA, the Bad News:
- NOAA saw nearly flat funding; receiving $74 million less than the 2016 omnibus.
- Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) is nearly flat funded at $480 million, a 0.36% decrease from FY16. OAR’s Climate Research program is also flat funded in the bill, which is troubling considering the cuts to climate research that began in FY11. Climate research at NOAA has fallen nearly 30 percent in recent years, from $225 million in FY10 to $158 million in FY16.
- The National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Weather Service (NWS) were funded at only about a 1% increase.
- The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) is funded at 5% below the FY16 level.
- NOAA, the Good News:
- The National Ocean Service (NOS) saw a nearly 5% increase.
- The Committee provided full funding for service life extensions of the Next Generation Weather Radars and Automated Surface Observing Systems, as well as $14.8 million for the formation of NOAA’s Integrated Water Prediction program, and $19 million for the expansion of the National Mesonet Program.
- The Committee provides the full amount requested by the administration for the continued procurement and acquisition of JPSS and GOES-R, NOAA’s flagship weather satellite programs.
- NSF, the Bad News:
- NSF overall saw an increase of $46 million, and NSF’s Research and Related Activities, which houses the Geosciences Directorate, remained funded at the FY16 level.
- The Committee also references that the peer review process should include evaluating “how a proposal will advance our Nation’s national security and economic interests as well as promote the progress of science and innovation in the United States.” This language is similar to last year’s Science in the National Interest Act that was concerning to many in the scientific community, although this language is more deferential to NSF and its current peer review process.
- NSF, the Good News:
- NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities’ account received a 23% increase. The Committee appropriated increased funding so that NSF can acquire a Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV) for each of the United States coasts, the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific.
- The Committee also mentions the need to support research across “all scientific disciplines.” A reference to language from the FY16 House CJS appropriations bill that would have allocated less funding to certain directorates, including the geosciences.
Whew, that’s it for now! As more bills are passed, we will continue to share our analysis with you. Don’t forget, you can ask your legislators to fund science during the appropriations process here.