Budget Cuts 101

I’m sure by now all of you American readers are aware of the 2011 budget negotiations reached between the White House and Congress this past weekend. As details of this funding bill have been released, federal agencies are learning exactly how much funding they’ll receive for fiscal year 2011.

The amount of information you can find on the internet on this topic is incredibly overwhelming, so I’ve sorted through (some) of it to make it as simple and accessible as possible. Here’s a breakdown on what the funding bill means for a handful of science agencies:

1)     NIH: Despite threats of major funding cuts for research, the National Institutes of Health only took 1.0 % cut in its overall budget, leaving a budget of $30.6 billion dollars. While some research funding will be cut, most of the vital scientific and biomedical research done by NIH will be preserved.  In the next month or so, NIH will outline their plans for spending and what it means for continuing grants, as well as new awards.

2)     NSF: The National Science Foundation also fared relatively well with only a 1% cut to their $6.8 billion budget. Most of the cuts will be taken from research, meaning that NSF expects to support about 1500 less researchers, students, and teachers than they did in 2010.

3)     Department of Energy: The Department of Energy only took a 0.6% cut overall, meaning that no DOE-run facilities will have to be shut down. This comes as a big surprise to the agency which had been planning for 10% cuts, which would lead to massive layoffs and the shutdown of national labs.  The Department’s Office of Science will receive $4.884 billion, which $20 million below FY 2010, but, with $76 million in earmarks in FY 2010, there is actually an increase to the Office’s base budget of $56 million.

For more details I highly recommend checking out ScienceInsider, which has detailed coverage and information on how the funding bill affects science research.


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