Good news for psychological research: The 2014 omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Barack Obama provides some relief from the severe budget cuts that went into effect with last year's sequestration.

Specifically, the budget gives:

  • $29.9 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is $714 million less than the 2013 pre-sequester level but $1 billion (or 3.5 percent) more than the post-sequester level. As the Senate Appropriations Committee Democratic summary states, "This amount should allow the NIH to continue all current research programs and begin approximately 385 additional research studies and trials." Last year, NIH reported that it funded 640 fewer research grants in 2013 than in 2012 because of sequestration.
  • $3 million increase in the research budget at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which was exempt from sequestration. The bill includes $585.7 million in 2014 for VA intramural research, compared with a 2013 level of $582.7 million.
  • $7.2 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF), down by $82 million from 2013. An analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates that this amount reflects a 4.2 percent increase for NSF over the FY 2013 sequester level. The largest part of the funding — $5.8 billion — goes to NSF's Research and Related Activities account.

While research funding has still not recovered from the impact of sequester-related cuts, and while the sequester is still not repealed, the omnibus spending bill gives research funding agencies some much-needed relief and, for a change, an improved ability to plan since managers know how much they have to spend between now and the end of the fiscal year.

— Patricia Kobor