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Slight R&D increase for five US federal agencies.

Prior to its Thanksgiving holiday, US House-Senate conference sessions produced final budgets for fiscal year 2006, which began October 1, for five US government agencies that provide funding for scientific research. This follows the passage of finalized fiscal 2006 budgets earlier this year for the Environmental Protection Agency (see IBO 7/31/05) and the Department of Homeland Security (see IBO 9/30/05). However, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), these appropriations will most likely be subject to an across-the-board 2% cut as part of the final appropriations bill, which is expected to be passed later this month and which will include the fiscal 2006 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) received a 1.1% increase in funding to $3.6 billion for fiscal 2006, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The AAAS reports that the DOE's fiscal 2006 R&D budget increased just 0.9% to $8.7 million. Much of the increase in R&D funding went to energy-related R&D. The 0.6% increase in the budget for the DOE's Office of Science went to congressional earmarked projects. Because the Office of Science operates large research facilities at DOE's national laboratories, the AAAS is concerned that the flat budget will reduce operating time at these lab facilities.

Funding for the DOE's Biological and Environmental Research increased a scant 0.6% as well to $586 million. Among the funding increases is an additional $3.5 million for upgrading instrumentation at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. However, DOE funding for Basic Energy Sciences increased 3.7% to $1.1 billion, including $746.1 million for materials sciences and engineering research and $221.8 million for chemical sciences, geosciences, and energy biosciences research.

Specific DOE funding allocations include $36.5 million for the Brookhaven National Laboratory's Center for Functional Nanomaterials and $4.6 million for the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. In addition, the DOE budget provides $42.1 million for science laboratories' infrastructure, including additional funds for construction of 300 replacement labs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. DOE nanotechnology allocations include $15.0 million from available funds to establish the National Nanotechnology Enterprise Development Center for development of technologies for the marketplace, as well as funding for industrial partnerships with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies.

National Science Foundation

Also finalized in November was the fiscal 2006 budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF), resulting in a 3.0% increase for the agency to $5.6 billion, according to the FASEB, and a 2.7% increase in its R&D budget to $4.2 billion, according to the AAAS. The budget for NSF Research and Related Activities grew 3.7% to $4.4 billion. As a result of the new budget, the AAAS estimates that competition for research grants will increase and that the application success rate will remain at 21%.

Department of Justice

The same congressional bill that funded the NSF also contained final appropriations for the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ budget included $108.5 million for DNA analysis and capacity enhancement, $5 million of which went to the Office of Law Enforcement Standards to work with the Community Oriented Policing Services "to develop minimum standards for equipment and testing for forensic science labs." The DOJ budget also allocated $18.5 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grants to improve the quality of forensic science and eliminate backlogs.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

The same bill also allocated funding for the Department of Commerce. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the Department of Commerce, received $761.8 million, including $399.9 million for Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS). The STRS budget included $37.4 million for the National Research Facilities and $60.6 million for Research Support Activities, which also funded for the National Nanomanufacturing and Nanometrology Facility. The Advanced Technology Program received an $80.0 million budget. In addition, the NIST will receive $175.9 million for the construction and maintenance of research facilities.

Department of Agriculture

Also finalized in November was the fiscal 2006 budget for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which rose 1.9% to $100.2 billion, according to the American Geological Institute. The AAAS reports that the R&D budget for the USDA declined 0.4% to $2.4 billion. Extramural research grants stayed flat at $648 million, and included $167 million for earmarked projects, primarily Special Research Grants. Among extramural research grants, National Research Initiative grants totaled $183 million. R&D for the Agricultural Research Service, which is responsible for the bulk of USDA intramural research, declined 1.7% to $22 million. The National Centers for Animal Health received $59 million to finish renovations. Seventy-two million dollars is available for other ARS labs.
US Federal Government FY2006 Budget

 FY2006 ($M) Chg.

Department of Energy R&D $ 8,695 0.9%
 Science R&D $ 3,354 0.6%

National Science Foundation R&D $ 4,375 3.7%
 Biological Sciences R&D $ 587 1.9%

Department of Agriculture R&D $ 2,394 -0.4%
 Agricultural Research Service R&D $ 1,284 -1.7%

Source: AAAS
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Date:Dec 15, 2005
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