February 08, 2007

In This Issue


The Bush Administration unveiled its proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2008 federal budget on February 5, 2007.  The proposed budget reflects the Bush Administration’s desire to keep spending for non-security discretionary programs capped at a 1.0 percent increase.  In contrast to mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, discretionary programs must every year go through an appropriations process that is kicked off with the release of the President’s budget proposal.

Once again, the Administration’s budget strongly favors Defense development, NASA space vehicles, and bolsters funding for the physical sciences.  Most other research areas will see their budgets cut in Bush’s proposed FY2008 budget. 

The agency ‘snapshots’ below offer just a brief update on the budget status for selected agencies.  Further information will be forthcoming in subsequent Policy News.  In addition, by April, an analysis of the proposed budget will appear in an American Association for the Advancement of Science publication available online, which will include a chapter, Biological and Ecological Sciences in the FY 2008 Budget, prepared by the Ecological Society of America and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

The President’s budget proposal marks the official beginning of the new appropriations round, with Congress soon gearing up for its own process in responding to and adjusting what the Administration has proposed for FY2008.  Technically, a new budget for fiscal year 2008 should be finalized by October 1, 2007, but as evidenced most recently by FY2007, that deadline is frequently not met.


In order to understand the proposed FY 2008 budget, it is necessary to understand the status of the FY 2007 budget.  With the exception of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, federal agencies still do not have a FY 2007 federal budget.  On January 31, 2007, the House passed House Joint Resolution 20 (HJR 20). This budget resolution sets the FY 2007 federal budget for all agencies (except Defense and Homeland Security which have approved budgets already).  For most agencies this means operating at the FY 2006 budget level, with some special funding increase exceptions that have been made for agencies including the National Science Foundation.  Until the Senate takes similar action the information below for the current fiscal year 2007 is not yet final but is not expected to change significantly.


National Science Foundation

Current fiscal year 2007:  NSF’s Research and Related Activities would receive a 7.7 percent increase over fiscal year 2006 in its likely 2007 budget.  The Biology Directorate (BIO) would receive a 4.4 percent increase over FY 2006.  Money to begin the planned construction for the National Ecological Observatory Network in 2007 is not included in the House resolution.

Proposed FY08: The FY 2008 Budget Request gives the NSF an increase of 8.3 percent over its likely FY 2007 budget.  BIO is slated to receive a relatively low (4.1) percentage increase as the Administration gives preferential treatment to the physical and computer sciences highlighted in its American Competitiveness Initiative.  In real terms, funding for BIO and the Geosciences Directorate would remain below 2004 funding levels, even after the 2007 and 2008 increases to these accounts.  The Education and Human Resources account is proposed to increase by 4.8 percent over FY07.

Budget documents: http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008/index.jsp

Department of Agriculture-National Research Initiative

FY2008 Request: While steep cuts are proposed to USDA’s intramural research, the President proposes an increase of $66 million to the Department’s extramural research through the NRI, which would reach a high of $257 million.  However, Congress has not approved such proposed increases in the past, primarily because the NRI would benefit at the expense of congressionally favored programs.  Budget documents: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/about/offices/budget.html

Department of Agriculture-Forest Service

FY2008 Request:  The Forest Service total budget would decrease by $64 million to $4 billion.  The Forest Service Research title would also decline by approximately 6.5 percent compared to the likely 2007 amount.   Budget documents: http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/


FY 2007:  Currently operating at sharply reduced funding levels, NOAA would return to FY06 levels with the added benefit of canceled earmarked dollars that the agency can devote to core research programs. 

FY2008 Request: NOAA Research & Development would plummet by 9.5 percent to $544 million, although selected ocean research programs would receive some increases.  Budget documents at http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/%7Enbo/08bluebook_highlights.html

Department of Energy- Office of Science

FY 2007:  The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would receive a 6 percent increase for its research programs. 

FY08 Request:  The Department’s Office of Science would get a tremendous 16 percent increase over the 2007 funding resolution level.  Budget documents at: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/budget/

Department of Interior-U.S. Geological Survey

FY2008 Request:  The Interior’s science agency would see a 3.4 percent cut, largely concentrated once again in USGS’ mineral and water resources divisions.  Biological Research at USGS would receive a 4.7 percent increase over the likely FY07 budget.  Budget information at: http://www.usgs.gov/budget/2008/2008index.asp

Environmental Protection Agency

FY2008 Request:  EPA would sustain a 3.5 percent cut from its likely FY2007 budget with increases for homeland security-related research coming in part at the expense of other EPA research areas.  Budget documents at: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/index.htm

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science R&D budget website, miscellaneous federal agency budget web pages and budget briefings.