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Lasers & Sources

President's budget includes science increases

SPIE Newsroom
2 February 2010

In his February 1, Budget Message to Congress, President Obama surprised many by proposing nearly across-the-board increases for scientific research and STEM Education -- in spite of an overall spending freeze on discretionary spending announced during the State of the Union message on January 27. The President's $3.8 trillion 2011 Budget Request, must now survive months of wrangling with Congress, which will make the ultimate decisions on public spending.  For more information, see http://www.usinnovation.org/files/FY2011PBR20110.pdf

The relatively positive news about the President's Budget follows months of concern that most scientific research and STEM education spending would either be cut or severely restricted given the current fiscal situation.

The greatest numeric increase in the federal science budget would go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will add more than $1 billion to its current spending of about just over $31 billion. The new funding will include $6 billion for cancer research and a goal of starting 30 new drug trials and doubling the number of drugs and vaccines in clinical trials by 2016. NIH thus will consume about 53% of all civilian funding. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would also get a hefty percentage increase of about 8% -- to about $7.8 billion -- in keeping with the Administration's goal of doubling the agency's budget over a ten-year period, as well as the goal of the SPIE-supported America COMPETES Act of 2007, which needs to be reauthorized during 2010. For more information about the proposed doubling of key science agency budgets, see http://www.usinnovation.org/files/DoublingFY201120110.pdf

NSF is the primary source of support for academic research for most non-health related disciplines and focuses upon the entire spectrum of the sciences and engineering. NSF would receive $7.4 billion in 2011, or 8 percent more than 2010. According to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), this increase will "support many more researchers, students, post-doctoral fellows, and technicians, contributing to the innovation enterprise and the jobs of the future. The 2011 Budget expands NSF's efforts in climate and energy research and education, networking and information technology research, and environmental and economic sustainability. The 2011 Budget also sustains the President's commitment to triple the number of new NSF Graduate Research Fellowships to 3,000 by 2013.

The overall Department of Energy Request is $28.4 billion for FY 2011 and includes DOE's research, science, environmental management and defense programs. The overall increase is about $1.8 billion or 6.8 percent over FY 2010. The DOE Office of Science budget would grow by 4.4 percent - specifically, the DOE's Office of Science request is $5.1 billion, representing an increase of $218 million, or 4.4 percent above the FY 2010 funding amount. According to DOE, the new funding would:

  • Enable approximately 26,000 researchers from universities, national laboratories, and industry to use DOE scientific facilities in FY 2011;
  • Support about 27,000 PhDs, postdoctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and technicians in FY 2011; and
  • Support investigators at more than 300 academic institutions and from all DOE national laboratories.

Additional information about the FY 2010 DOE budget request, including key budget highlights and the full budget justification, is available at: http://www.energy.gov/about/budget.htm.  To view a presentation by DOE Office of Science Director William Brinkman, go to the DOE Office of Science homepage at: http://www.er.doe.gov/.