President Releases 2013 Budget Request
The President submitted his budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 to Congress on February 14. The Request is accompanied by a Congressional Justification, which spells out why the administration is requesting the funding for each program it wishes to support in the coming year. Overall, the President’s request is generous to scientific research and development programs given that the overall budget is shrinking.
National Institutes of Health
The President has requested $30.623 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for FY 2013, the same amount NIH received for FY 2012. The Administration estimates that these funds will support 9,415 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2013, an increase of 672 above FY 2012. In order to maximize resources in FY 2013 for investigator-initiated grants, and to continue to focus on resources for young, first-time researchers, NIH proposes reducing non-competing RPGs by one percent from the FY 2012 level, and to negotiate the budgets of competing RPGs to avoid growth in the average award size (estimate of -1%) from FY 2012. In addition, the NIH will no longer build in the inflationary increases that were included for planning purposes in the out-years of competing and non-competing awards. NIH plans to continue it current policies that allow new investigators to receive grants at rates equal to those of established investigators. NIH has also stated that it will adopt agency-wide, the long-standing NIGMS policy that requires additional review of awards to any principal investigator with existing grants of $1.5 million or more in total costs. The review will be conducted by an Institute’s or Center’s advisory council.
National Science Foundation
The President has requested $7,373 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for FY 2013, Public Affairs which is an increase of $340 million or 4.8% over the FY 2012 enacted budget. Within the NSF, the request for “Research and Related Activities,” which includes investigator initiated research funding, is $5,983.3 million, a $294.3 million or 5.2% increase over the current funding level. NSF has set three priority goals for accomplishment in FY 2012 and FY 2013: access to digital products of NSF-funded research; undergraduate programs; and the Innovation Corps, which tests the commercial viability of entrepreneurs emerging from university laboratories. In a briefing, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren indicated that the Administration wants to continue with plan to double the NSF budget, but will do so more slowly than originally planned in an effort to minimize federal spending across the board.
Department of Energy Office of Science
The President has requested $4,992.1 million for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science for FY 2012, an increase $118.4 million or 2.4% over FY 2012 funding. According to the congressional justification, the Administration’s emphasis for the Office of Science is on research on clean energy technologies: “This includes research underpinning advances in non-carbon emitting energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, transportation and fuel switching, transmission and energy storage, efficiency, and critical materials for energy applications.” Over the next few months, committees in both the House and Senate, which are not obligated to turn the President’s request into legislation, will hold hearings on the President’s budget request. They will then proceed to develop their own proposals for the FY2013 budget.
Biophysical Society Opposes GRANT Act
The Biophysical Society, along with 83 other organizations, signed a letter sent by the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) to every member in the House of Representatives regarding the the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act. The Society also sent an additional letter to Representative Darrell Issa (RCA), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), expressing the Society’s strong opposition to the bill.
The GRANT Act, if it were to become law, would require the disclosure of peer reviewers as well as the posting of a complete copy of a funded grant proposal to a new government-wide website. Both the CNSF letter and the Society’s letter cite concerns with these provisions. The Act was passed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in November 2011.
The letters explain that removing the anonymity of peer reviewers may result in less candid evaluations and may also result in individuals refusing to serve in this role. The letter also explains that publishing funded grant proposals would make public information that is often proprietary and the result of years of research, thus limiting the ability of grant recipients to reap the benefit of their own work.
The full text of both letters can be found at www.biophysics.org/newsreleases.
Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 Released
In February the National Science Board released “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” (www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/) a 575-page report measuring and characterizing R&D, education, workforce, academic, public attitudes, and state data. Indicators 2012 is the 20th edition of this biennial report, which provides a tremendous amount of data about science, STEM education, and the high-tech workforce in the United States. It was prepared by NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).
As described in an accompanying document, the Indicators report is “factual and policy-neutral; it neither offers policy options nor make policy recommendations. The indicators included in the report are intended to contribute to the understanding
of the current S&E environment.”
The National Science Board has released a graphics-rich presentation of some of the most important indicators in the larger report. It can be found at www.nsf.gov/statistics/digest12/
There is also a State Data Tool www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c8/interactive/ of 58 indicators of elementary/secondary education, higher education, workforce, financial R&D inputs, R&D outputs, and science and technology outputs. This tool is interactive, enabling users to examine one or more indicators in a variety of formats.
April 2012 Table of Contents