U.S. Federal Budget Update

March 30, 2003

On February 3, with the FY 2003 budgets for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and other agencies yet to be finalized, the administration released its FY 2004 budget request.

In FY 2004 (the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2003), the federal research portfolio overall would gain 7% under the administration's request. Basic research would grow by 5%, and applied research by 2%, compared with last year's request.

(The president's FY 2003 proposal was used as the baseline for comparisons with the FY 2004 request because of the incompleteness of the FY 2003 appropriation process. As a consequence, all the percentage increases specified here are subject to change.)

For FY 2004, the administration has requested a total budget of $5.481 billion for the National Science Foundation, a 9% increase over the FY 2003 request. The Department of Energy's Office of Science would receive a total of $3.3 billion, an increase of $47 million, or 1.4%. Research programs at the Department of Defense would decrease, by 7.7% (basic research) and 14.4% (applied). The National Institutes of Health would receive an increase of only 2%, with most of the increase to be directed to biodefense.

Within NSF, the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate would receive $1.061 billion, an increase of $120 million, or 12.7%. Drilling down further within the MPS allocation, the budget of the Division of Mathematical Sciences would increase by $20 million (11.0%) over the FY 2003 request, to a total of $202 million.

As an explicitly designated interdisciplinary priority area, the Mathematical Sciences are to receive additional funding from the overall NSF budget. Other priority areas at NSF include Biocomplexity in the Environment, Information Technology Research, and Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

The budget for CISE (NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate) would also increase, to a total of $584 million (10.9%).

Within DOE's Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) would receive $173.5 million under the FY 2004 request, an increase of $6.9 million, or 4.2%. Much of the increase for ASCR is targeted for the Next Generation Computer Architecture Initiative, which aims to optimize computer architectures to meet the requirements of various scientific programs.

The next step for the FY 2004 budget is Congress, where figures will undoubtedly change during the appropriations process. A word about NSF in FY 2003: Appropriators from the House and Senate finally reached agreement on the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which has been passed by both chambers and presented to the president for signature. NSF is to receive $5.345 billion, an increase of 11.6% over the FY 2002 level. The Research and Related Activities (RRA) account receives $4.083 billion, an increase of 13.5%. Like virtually all other federal programs included in the bill, NSF will be subject to an across-the-board funding cut of 0.65%.

Language accompanying the RRA section of the bill directs NSF to give high priority to "increasing research opportunities for investigator initiated research in the core scientific disciplines." Within the RRA account, the mathematical sciences continue to receive attention. MPS would receive $1.041 billion, an increase of 13.1%. Within MPS, mathematics programs are to receive $179.62 million, an increase of 18.5% over FY 2002 funding totals.

Detailed information on the proposed FY 2004 budgets can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/home/budget/start.htm and http://www.cfo.doe.gov/budget/04budget/index.htm.

The information presented here is based on reports from Lewis-Burke Associates, in Washington, DC.

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