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Economic stimulus bill provides major boost for R&D.

The $790-billion economic stimulus bill signed by President Obama on February 17 contains $21.5 billion in federal R & D funding--%18 billion for research and $3.5 billion for facilities and large equipment. The final appropriation was more than the $17.8 billion approved in the Senate or the $13.2 billion approved in the House version of the bill. For a federal research portfolio that has been declining in real terms since fiscal year (FY) 2004, the final bill provides an immediate boost that allows federal research funding to see a real increase for the first time in five years.

The stimulus bill, which is technically an emergency supplemental appropriations bill, was approved before final work has been completed on funding the federal government for FY 2009. Only 3 of 12 FY 2009 appropriations bills have been approved (for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs). All other federal agencies are operating at or below FY 2008 funding levels under a continuing resolution (CR) through March 6.

Under the CR and the few completed FY 2009 appropriations, the federal research portfolio stands at $58.3 billion for FY 2009, up just 0.3% (less than inflation), but after the stimulus bill and assuming that final FY 2009 appropriations are at least at CR levels, the federal research portfolio could jump to nearly $75 billion.

Basic competitiveness-related research, biomedical research, energy R & D, and climate change programs are high priorities in the bill. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive $10.4 billion, which would completely turn around an NIH budget that has been ion decline since 2004 and could boost the total NIH budget to $40 billion, depending on the outcome of NIH's regular FY 2009 appropriation.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)--the three agencies highlighted in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and President Bush'

American Competitiveness Initiative--would all be on track to double their budgets over 7 to 10 years. NSF will receive $3 billion, DOE's Office of Science $1.6 billion, and NIST $600 million.

DOE's energy programs would also be a winner with $3.5 billion for R&D and related activities in renewable energy, energy conservation, and fossil energy part of the nearly $40 billion total for DOE in weatherization, loan guarantees, clean energy demonstration, and other energy program funds. DOE will receive $400 million to start up the Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy (ARPA-E), a new research agency authorized in the America COMPETES Act but not funded until now.

The bill will provide money for climate change-related projects in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There is also additional money for non-R&D but science and technology-related programs, higher education construction, and other education spending of interest to academia.

The bill provides billions of dollars for universities to construct or renovate laboratories and to buy research equipment, as well as money for federal labs to address their infrastructure needs. The bill provides $3.5 billion for R&D facilities and capital equipment to pay for the repair, maintenance, and construction of scientific laboratories as well as large research equipment and instrumentation. Considering that R&D facilities funding totaled $4.5 billion in FY 2008, half of which went to just one laboratory (the International Space Station), the $3.5-billion supplemental will be an enormous boost in the federal government's spending on facilities.

"From the Hill" is prepared by the Center for Science, Technology, and Congress at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (www.aaas.org/spp) in Washington, D.C., and is based on articles from the center's bulletin Science & Technology in Congress.
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Title Annotation:FROM THE HILL
Publication:Issues in Science and Technology
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Words:631
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