Research Funding Outlook: Funds settled for 2007 and Bush's Budget for 2008

On February 15, 2007, the President signed House Joint Resolution 20, a bill to finalize funding for the 2007 fiscal year. This measure successfully secured $2.3 billion in additional funds for important health and education programs, including the Ryan White CARE programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pell Grants funded by the Department of Education.

On February 15, 2007, the President signed House Joint Resolution 20, a bill to finalize funding for the 2007 fiscal year. This measure successfully secured $2.3 billion in additional funds for important health and education programs, including the Ryan White CARE programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pell Grants funded by the Department of Education. A $620 million increase for the National Institutes of Health, while only a 2 percent increase overall, gave some much needed relief to an agency whose budget had been frozen for the first four months of the fiscal year. NIH has made maintaining the number of new grants and funding for new investigators a priority given the still-tight budget, and has announced it will not give inflationary increases to continuing grants in Fiscal Year 2007.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) also came out ahead in Fiscal Year 2007 spending. NSF is part of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), which was a push for additional funds for basic research primarily (but not solely) in the physical and mathematical sciences. It is expected that the additional support will be spread among all of the research Directorates. NSF receives a 7.7 percent increase in its Research and Related Activities Account, bringing the NSF total to $5.916 billion. Funding for the Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate will increase to $213.8 million.

Under the President's proposal, domestic discretionary spending is cut by $114 billion over the next five years. Health and education programs are largely flat, and defense research takes a hit.

For education research funding, the president proposed level funding for the primary research centers within the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The National Center for Education Research would receive $162.5 million to support research on teacher quality, cognition and learning, early childhood education, social and behavioral interventions, and financial and management reforms in education. The National Center for Special Education Research would receive flat funding of $71.8 million for ongoing research to improve special education and early intervention services for infants, toddlers and children with disabilities.

Under the Administration's budget request, NIH would receive $511 million less in 2008 than 2007: $310 million less in the budget of institutes and centers, and an increased tap from the NIH budget of $201 million for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The 2008 budget includes a drastic cut (20.3 percent) in the Department of Defense's overall Science and Technology Program compared with FY 2007, falling to $10.9 billion. Basic and applied research and advanced technology development across all three services would face steep declines in support. Basic research funding at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, however, would rise 5 percent in FY 2008.

At first, the Department of Homeland Security appeared to be one of the winners in the President's budget, with a proposed 8 percent increase overall for 2008. Upon closer inspection, however, it was found that funding for the Science and Technology Directorate, which received cuts in the 2007 appropriation, drops again from $973 million to $880 million for 2008. A reorganization of the directorate in 2006 did raise the profile of behavioral science by including a new Human Factors Division that provides a permanent home for psychological research. Further, the 2008 budget calls for increase of $5.8 million for that Division to fund programs aimed at modeling group dynamics during catastrophic events, deterrence of radical behavior, and the capability to detect and prevent violent behavior in groups.

Within the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Medical and Prosthetic Research Account would receive $411 million in the president's FY 2008 budget. This represents a decrease from the likely FY 2007 level of $412 million, which itself represented flat funding compared to FY 2006.

Despite this dispiriting news, SPIN readers should remember that the President's budget is only the first word in a very long speech, so to speak. The House and Senate will also develop and approve their own budget resolutions. Congress will then attempt to reconcile the budgets and develop appropriations bills to fund separate sectors of the government. Consequently, there are many opportunities between now and the end of the 2007 fiscal year for numbers to change and for constituents to weigh in on the process.

If the President's budget is the first word, we in the Science Government Relations Office would like to have the second word. Please act when you receive a request from our office to contact your members of Congress. Use the influence you have as constituents, experts, and scientists who attract federal research dollars to your congressional district, to speak out about funding issues. Make time to do this service for your profession and discipline. Members of Congress listen to the people who communicate with them, so if you are concerned about the budget of the agency that funds your research, TAKE ACTION.