Geoscience Policy Monthly Review
may 2017

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Congress reaches final agreement on FY 2017 funding

May 1, 2017

On May 1, Congress agreed to advance an omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year (FY) 2017, which will fund the government through September 30, 2017. The omnibus designates funding levels for the 11 remaining annual appropriations bills which have not yet been enacted, and provides additional policy guidance for key national priorities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 (H.R.244) funds most science agencies slightly above or near the same level of the enacted amounts received for FY 2016. The bill includes funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at $1.085 billion, an increase of 2.2% from the FY 2016 enacted level. It funds the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) at $19.7 billion, an increase of 1.9% over the FY 2016 enacted level, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.47 billion, a slight increase of 0.1% over the FY 2016 enacted level. The bill also funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $5.68 billion, which is a 1.6% decrease from the FY 2016 enacted level.

Overall, most science agencies received relatively flat funding in the FY 2017 omnibus bill, although multiple programs and mission areas within the science agencies received small cuts. For example, the USGS Energy, Minerals, and Environment Mission Area received a 0.2% decrease, and the NASA Education Program received a 13% decrease from the FY 2016 enacted levels. There are increases to 3DEP, Alaska mapping, and Chesapeake Bay landscape level assessments.

For a more detailed analysis, please visit AGI’s Overview of Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations.

Sources: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations; Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; Subcommittee on Energy and Water; Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

President Trump releases FY 2018 Budget Request

May 23, 2017

On May 23, President Donald Trump unveiled his full budget request to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The spending plan elaborates on the FY 2018 “skinny” budget proposal that the White House released this past March, which called for numerous cuts to federal science agencies but did not include specific numbers for some of the agencies.

The proposed cuts to the science agencies reflect a broader intent to decrease non-defense spending, which would effectively offset a proportional increase in defense spending to fund the administration’s plans to build our nation’s military resources and border security.

The President’s request includes funding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at $19.092 billion, a small decrease of 2.85% from the enacted amount in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill. It also funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $4.775 billion, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $6.653 billion, which are respective decreases of 15.86% and 10.96%. The President’s budget request eliminates NASA’s and NOAA’s Office of Education.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a 15% decrease with funding at $922.2 million. The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) both receive slight increases in the President’s FY 2018 request, while the National Parks Service is funded at $3.26 million, which is an increase of 11.2% from FY 2017 levels. The Department of Energy (DOE) is funded at $28.042 million, an 8.9% decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level.

Annual presidential budget requests only provide recommendations to Congress and are not bills that can be signed into law. The House and Senate appropriations committees will write their own spending bills, which must pass both chambers and be signed by the President before the end of September to avoid a government shutdown or the need for a continuing resolution.

For more details, view our breakdown of the President’s request: Overview of FY 2018 Appropriations

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of the Interior, White House Office of Management and Budget

FY 2018 budget request seeks to eliminate NASA Office of Education

May 23, 2017

The President’s budget request seeks to completely eliminate NASA’s Office of Education (OE) and its portfolio of programs and projects. The request attributes the closure to challenges the agency has experienced in implementing a focused NASA-wide education strategy and current fiscal constraints. The budget includes $37.3 million for NASA Education, which is a 62.7% cut from the fiscal year (FY) 2017 enacted level, to perform closeout in a cost-effective and efficient manner and minimize negative impacts to awardees that receive annual funding from OE.

NASA's FY 2018 Budget Estimates explains that although this budget no longer supports the formal OE programs, the agency will continue to inspire the next generation through its missions. According to NASA, the budget supports all planned activities within the Science Mission Directorate’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Science Activation project, which is not affected by the proposed termination of NASA OE.

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

FY 2018 budget request would cut USGS programs severely

May 23, 2017

President Trump proposed a budget of $922.2 million for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in his request for fiscal year (FY) 2018, which is a 15% cut from the FY 2017 enacted level. The proposed cuts would severely impact every USGS mission area. Funding for Land Use (formerly Climate and Land Use) would drop by 24.4% but work on developing LandSat 9 would continue, Core Science Systems would be cut by 19.8%, Water by 19.2%, Natural Hazards would see a drop of 18.6%, Ecosystems would lose 17.3% of current funding, Science Support would be cut 15.3%, and Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health would lose 3%. There would be an increase of 11.8% for Facilities, which includes building rent and repairs.

The USGS Library, one of the largest collections of earth science materials in the world, is part of Core Science Systems. As a consequence of the proposed FY 2018 budget reduction of 52% to the Library, the USGS would place all of its library collections into a dark archive – which is essentially a warehouse that meets building safety requirements – and reduce online journal subscriptions by at least fifty percent. The public would have no access to the Library and at least three, or potentially all four existing locations, would close.

The President’s request includes a net reduction of $2.1 million for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) compared to the FY 2017 enacted amount. This would reduce funds that support federal mapping (FEDMAP), state geological survey mapping (STATEMAP), and geologic mapping education (EDMAP) projects.

In the Natural Hazards Mission Area, the budget proposal would eliminate implementation of an Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast, suspend implementation of the National Volcano Early Warning System, and eliminate the Geomagnetism Program, an element of the U.S. National Space Weather Program, which would affect the accuracy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Air Force geomagnetic storms forecasting.

Sources: U.S. Geological Survey