March Sequestration Deadline Fast Approaching

26 February 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13-10

On 1 March 2013 sequestration will trigger automatic spending cuts to the federal budget, which in the next year alone will total $85 billion. The OMB estimates that this means a roughly 5% annual reduction for discretionary funds in Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13). However, because cuts were pushed back to being in March and thus will be made over a seven-month period rather than a twelve-month period, the effective reductions for FY13 will be approximately 9% for discretionary programs, such as science research funding.

These cuts are large and arbitrary, giving no allowance to prioritize which programs experience cuts. Even now the impacts are becoming clear as federal agencies and departments make contingency plans and limit future operations. Under the proposed cuts NSF would have to reduce or delay over one thousand research grants that currently benefit and employ tens of thousands of scientists and students. At NOAA, large furloughs would result in serious understaffing, risking increased forecast error and damaging the government’s ability to provide advance warning for extreme weather events. These impacts and more are detailed in letters from federal agencies to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Federal investments in research and development have a history of significant returns on investment—creating successful companies like Google and improving public safety through earthquake hazard mapping and emergency response systems. Between now and 2017, AAAS estimates that federal investments in research and development will be cut by $54 billion.

Now is the time to contact your legislators and inform them of the value of investing in science research. Let them know that further cuts stand to do significant damage to the U.S. scientific enterprise—threatening jobs, research grants, and the scientific innovation process critical to our economic prosperity.

Learn more about the value of U.S. Federal research and development funding by watching AGU’s new video. You can also sign the AAAS “Speak Up For Science” petition urging Congress to find a financial solution beyond sequestration.