President's FY17 Budget Request for Science

11 February 2016
AGU Science Policy Alert 16-3

On 9 February, the President released his annual budget request outlining his fiscal priorities for fiscal year 2017 (FY17). Below are highlights from some major agencies conducting and funding Earth and space science research.

Significantly, the budget straddles the line between respecting the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and suggesting more aspirational numbers that would work to restore funding for federal science agencies to pre-recession levels. The President’s budget calls for a $6.2 billion increase in research and development spending.  However, about $4 billion of that figure would come from savings from cuts to so-called “mandatory” programs that could not be made without approval by Congress.  For example, mandatory programs include Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, and interest on the national debt.  The President has proposed that some of the budget come from this “mandatory” funding in order to respect the cap on “discretionary” funding established by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.  Unfortunately, because Congress is unlikely to agree to the specific cuts to mandatory funding being proposed, many of the President’s  proposals that rely on the savings from those cuts will likely remain unfunded. 

The next step the in the budget process will be members of Congress writing, debating, and passing appropriations legislation to actually fund the government in FY17. If there are proposals in the President’s budget that you would like Congress to support, contact your legislators today and let them know.

(Budget authority, in millions of dollars. Numbers are rounded. All numbers reflect the full President’s Budget Request, including funds proposed to come from both discretionary and mandatory funding sources.)

DOE
2016 Enacted: 29,717
2017 Proposed: 32, 499
Dollar Change from FY16: 2,782
Percent Change from FY16: 8.5%
Highlights:
-$5.67 billion for the Office of Science to continue to lead basic research in the physical sciences and develop and operate cutting-edge scientific user facilities while strengthening the connection between advances in fundamental science and technology innovation.
-$7.6 billion will be dedicated to Mission Innovation, the international pledge to double federal clean energy research and development investment over the next 5 years; including $1.8 billion from the Office of Science.
-All $100 million in mandatory funding would go to university grants.
-$600 million ($32 million below FY16) for Fossil Energy Research and Development to advance carbon capture, storage and natural gas technologies, and fuel supply impact mitigation.
-$2.9 billion ($829 million increase over FY16) for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to continue a diverse suite of sustained investment in energy innovations.

EPA
2016 Enacted: 8,140
2017 Proposed: 8,267
Dollar Change from FY16: 127
Percent Change from FY16: 1.6%
Highlights:
-The budget sets aside $235 million for EPA’s climate change work.
-The budget includes $2 billion total for the EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs.
-Most Science & Technology accounts received a boost, including the Clean Air and Climate account which received an additional $11.6 million or 10% increase.

NASA
2016 Enacted: 19,285
2017 Proposed: 19,025
Dollar Change from FY16: -260
Percent Change from FY16: -1.35%
Highlights:
-Within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the budget provides $2 billion to sustain progress toward Earth observation satellite missions and research that will improve our understanding of Earth, its atmosphere, and oceans.
-The Science Mission Directorate budget within NASA is $5,601 million, up $12 million from FY16 enacted, which is a 0.2% increase.
-The Science Mission Directorate budget, includes: $1,519 million for Planetary Science (a 6.9% decrease under FY16 enacted) and $699 million for Heliophysics in the FY17 request (a 7.5% increase over FY16 enacted).
-NASA’s budget includes $763 million in mandatory funding, spread across many accounts

NOAA
2016 Enacted: 5,766
2017 Proposed: 5,800
Dollar Change from FY16: 34
Percent Change from FY16: 0.60%
Highlights:
-The Budget provides $2.3 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite programs, including $393 million for the Polar Follow-on satellite program and funding for the geostationary satellite systems that are critical to weather forecasting.
-Includes $100 million mandatory investment to acquire a second Regional Survey Vessel (RSV) to maintain NOAA’S research fleet capacity.
-The National Weather Service is funded at $1.1 billion ($5 million less than FY16).

NSF
2016 Enacted: 7,463
2017 Proposed: 7,964
Dollar Change from FY16: 500.3
Percent Change from FY16: 6.7%
Highlights:
-GEO Directorate request is $1,398 million, an increase of $80 million or 6% over FY16 enacted.
-Continue emphasis on research at the food-energy-water nexus, which would receive $62 million for FY17; and risk and resilience program, PREEVENTS, with funding at $43 million for FY17.
-All $400 million in mandatory funding would go to research programs directed at early career investigators and one-time investments in infrastructure upgrades.

USGS
2016 Enacted: 1,062
2017 Proposed: 1,169
Dollar Change from FY16: 107
Percent Change from FY16: 10%
Highlights:
-$150 million for the natural hazards mission, which helps to protect communities from hazards such as earthquakes, landslides and flooding.
-The Climate and Land Use Change account receives $171 million (a 22.4% increase from FY16), including funding for Landsat 9, set to launch in 2021, and will continue the 43-year unbroken record of global land imaging measurements.
-$228 million for water resources research, including funding for the Water Availability and Use Science Program to develop near real-time assessments of regional and national water use during drought periods.