President Obama's Earth and Space Science FY15 Budget Request

5 March 2014
AGU Science Policy Alert 14-3

The President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) was released on 4 March 2014. Earlier this calendar year, Democrats and Republicans came together to produce a FY14 budget that invests in key areas of education, innovation, and infrastructure. According to the White House, the FY15 budget request strives to build on the progress made by Congress, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. AGU released a statement on the budget request on 5 March, calling the proposal a “mixed bag for science.”

Overall, the request calls for $65.9 billion for non-defense research and development (R&D), up 0.7% or $477 million from the FY14 enacted level, and $69.5 billion for defense R&D, up $1.2 billion or 1.7% from FY14 enacted, for a total of $135.4 million in federal R&D funding.

Basic and applied research investments total $64.7 billion, up $251 million or 0.4% from FY14. Basic research represents less than half of this research investment at $32.1 billion. Investments in development total $68.0 billion, an increase of 2.3% over 2014.

The 2015 budget proposal also requests $56 billion for what the Administration calls the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (OGS Initiative).” This hefty sum is meant to nourish agencies and program areas, including the Pentagon and National Institutes of Health (NIH), affected by the sharp spending cuts known as the sequester. This includes nearly $1 billion for NIH, over $500 million more for NSF, nearly $900 million for NASA, and $180 million for NOAA. Climate research also benefits from the initiative, with $1 billion in additional funds requested to better understand and combat climate change.

Below are highlights of selected scientific agencies’ FY15 budget requests.  Links to budget overviews for each agency are also included, although not all agencies have released their overviews at this time. Note that requested funds for the OGS Initiative are not included in the information provided below, as that funding is in addition to the agency FY15 requests.

The President’s FY 15 budget request to Congress emphasizes the importance of science, particularly climate research, but the investment in basic research falls short.  Please contact your legislators and let them know about the importance of funding basic research. You could note the opportunity for appropriators to include the additional science funds provided in the OGS Initiative when they consider agency budgets.  Note that there are restrictions on federal employees’ communications with Congress. Federal employees should contact their legislative affairs offices before contacting their legislators.

Department of Energy (DOE)

  • Requests $27.9 billion in discretionary funds for DOE, a 2.6% increase above the FY14 enacted level.
  • Reorganization of the department into three Under Secretariats: Science and Energy, Nuclear Security, and Management and Performance.
  • Provides over $9.2 billion, a 4.7% increase over the FY14 enacted level, for the newly combined DOE Office of Science and Energy.
  • The budget requests $325 million, a 16.1% increase or $45 million over FY14, for the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) to continue research and development of transformational clean energy technologies.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • Provides $17.5 billion in discretionary funding for NASA, a decrease of $186 million or 1.06% below the FY14 enacted level.
  • Cuts NASA Science by 3% or $179 million, from $5.12 billion in FY14 to $4.97 billion in FY15.
  • Proposes placing SOFIA into storage due to its high operating cost and budget constraints, but funds approximately 35 missions currently preparing for launch, and sustains nearly 60 operating missions.
  • Supports the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • Continues agency implementation of a modified Administration’s STEM education reorganization initiative while maintaining NASA’s investment in the Space Grant, EPSCOR, and MUREP programs.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

  • Requests $1.07 billion for USGS, an increase of 4% or $41 million above the FY14 enacted level.
  • Increases investment in Climate Variability by $18.4 million or 34% from FY14.
  • The Landsat satellite program in the Land Remote Sensing program is funded at $53.3 million, level with 2014, and includes funding for maintenance and operation of ground systems and satellite operations.
  • The 2015 budget provides a program increase in Earthquake Hazards of $700 thousand for induced seismicity studies for hydraulic fracturing. Increases are partially offset by reductions in activities within the Natural Hazards mission area, including a $700 thousand cut to Coastal and Marine Geology.
  • Request includes $108.3 million for Science Support, a $2.4 million decrease below the 2014 enacted level.
  • Provides program increases of $2.4 million in Groundwater Resources for the National Groundwater Monitoring Network and $1.2 million for the National Streamflow Information Program for stream gauges.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Requests $7.9 billion for EPA, a decrease of $300 million or 3.7% below FY14 enacted level.
  • Reduces funding for Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds by a combined $581 million, a 25% cut from FY14.
  • The budget request also includes $5 million in cuts to a $90 million brownfields grant project program and $25 million in cuts from a $300 million Great Lakes restoration program.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • Requests $7.26 billion for NSF, an increase of $83 million or 1.2% over the FY14 enacted level.
  • Proposes a $1.46 million cut to research and related activities, a 0.03% decrease from 2014.
  • NSF will present more detailed information on the NSF FY15 budget request on 10 March.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Requests $5.64 billion for NOAA, an increase of 5% or $282 million over the 2014 enacted level.
  • Provides an $89 million or a 2.7% increase to operations, research, and facilities
  • NOAA will release more detailed information on the NOAA FY15 budget request on 18 March.