Created by on 02/14/2012

On February 13th, President Barack Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. The $3.8 trillion request adheres to the FY 2013 spending limit that was included in the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last summer and reduces discretionary spending by $1 trillion over ten years. Discretionary spending is reduced from 8.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 to five percent in 2022. As outlined in the State of the Union address last month, the Obama FY 2013 budget blueprint makes key investments in innovation, research, and education. Although funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will remain flat, the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC), the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical and Prosthetic Research Program all received increases above the FY 2012 level. A budget overview and specific details and funding tables for each agency and program can be found in the departmental factsheets available on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) web site. The following chart summarizes funding for the federal science programs of interest to FASEB:

$30.7 billion
no change
$7.3 billion
+4.8% (+$340 million)
$4.9 billion
+2.4% (+$118 million)
$325 million
+23% (+$60.5 million)
$583 million
+0.3% (+$2 million)

For FY 2013, NIH requests a program level of $30.7 billion, the same as the FY 2012 enacted level. NIH will invest in areas of the most extraordinary promise for biomedical research and continue to support the scientific workforce, working to recruit and retain the best and brightest from the our nation’s diverse populations, to tackle the major health challenges facing the country in the future. The budget proposes a two percent stipend increase for National Research Service Awards pre-doctoral and postdoctoral research trainees, continuing a long-term strategy that NIH has used to try and keep stipend levels closer to salaries that could be earned in related occupations so that outstanding individuals will continue to pursue biomedical research careers. A total of $544.9 million is allocated for the NIH Common Fund, the same as the FY 2012 level. Consistent with FY 2012 congressional action, the FY 2013 Budget for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases no longer includes funds to be transferred to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. (Funds for this program are requested in the State Department budget.)
NIH estimates that it will support 9,415 new and competing research project grants (RPGs) in FY 2013, an increase of 672 (approximately seven percent) above FY 2012. The total number of RPGs is expected to be 35,888. NIH wide, the average cost of a new and competing RPG in FY 2013 is estimated to be about $431,000. In order to maximize resources for investigator-initiated grants, and to continue to focus on resources for young, first time researchers, NIH intends to discontinue out-year inflationary allowances for competing and continuation grants; reduce non-competing continuation grants by one percent below the FY 2012 level, and negotiate the budget’s of competing grants to avoid growth in the average award size. NIH will also continue the current policy of equalizing success rates of new investigators and established investigators. In addition, the agency will establish a process for additional scrutiny and review by the Institute or Center Advisory Council of awards to any principal investigator with existing grants of $1.5 million or more in total costs. A total of $133 million is requested for NIH Buildings and Facilities, the same level as in FY 2012.
The President’s FY 2013 budget request proposes to fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at a level of $7.373 billion, an increase of $340 million (4.8 percent) over the FY 2012 enacted level. “This investment in science and engineering reflects an increase in core research funding and moves our nation forward by connecting the science and engineering enterprise with potential economic, societal, and educational benefits in areas critical to job creation and a growing economy,” stated NSF Director Subra Suresh, ScD. According to the Director, the proposed NSF budget sustains the Administration’s commitment to eventually double funding for key basic research agencies. The FY 2013 request also raises the Research and Related Activities account by $294 million (5.2 percent).
Continuing the agency’s “OneNSF” theme of collaboration across disciplines, the Administration’s  NSF funding priorities focus on cross-cutting research in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, wireless communications, and science and mathematics education. Among the key highlights listed as important to NSF’s mission is the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program, which would receive $243 million in FY 2013 to support 2,000 new fellowships. The agency’s budget document also describes three priority goals to drive performance improvements. These goals address enhanced access to digital products of NSF-funded research, NSF undergraduate programs, and the NSF Innovation Corps program.
The FY 2013 budget request for the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) is $734 million, a  3.0 percent increase. BIO plans to focus on five Grand Challenges including “genomes to phenomes;” synthetic biology; neurosystems; Earth, climate, and biosphere; and biological diversity. Assistant Director John Wingfield, PhD also expressed a desire to increase collaboration, broaden participation, and improve public outreach.
Remaining committed to priorities outlined in FY 2012, the President’s FY 2013 budget request expands investment in basic energy sciences, advanced scientific computing, and biological and environmental research by providing $4.992 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC). The budget request represents an increase of $118 million (2.4 percent) above the enacted FY 2012 level. Emphasizing the desire to support science for innovation and clean energy, funding for DOE SC includes $1.800 billion for the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program to bolster materials and chemical research. The Biological and Environmental Research program would receive $625 million in FY 2013, a 2.6 percent increase over FY 2012 levels. In addition, the President requests $350 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in order to continue support for promising early-stage research projects that could lead to groundbreaking clean energy technologies.
The agency’s FY 2013 highlights within BES include final construction and early operations of the National Synchrotron Light Source-II, an upgrade of the Advanced Photon Source, and enhancement of the Linac Coherent Light Source-II. According to DOE SC Director William Brinkman, PhD, the Nuclear Physics program has begun strategic planning activities to determine which of its user facility projects should be prioritized, given the constrained DOE SC budget. In additon, the President’s FY 2013 budget request does not provide funds to continue the DOE SC Graduate Fellowship Program, which will likely be reevaluated after the current cohort of fellows’ term expires.
The President’s FY 2013 budget provides $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The AFRI budget request represents an increase of $61 million (23.1 percent) over the FY 2012 enacted level of $264 million. "The budget makes a 23% increase in funding for our premier competitive grants program to support the most worthy projects...,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
AFRI will continue to address key societal challenges by funding targeted research in the areas of human nutrition and obesity reduction, food safety, sustainable bioenergy, global food security, and climate change. Specific funding details include an additional $7.2 million in nutrition and obesity prevention research, $5.2 million for the NIFA Fellows program which directly supports graduate education in priority AFRI research areas, and an increase of $3.2 million in foundational research programs. The USDA budget request states that “the Department continues to move toward the use of competitive grants to generate the solutions to the Nation’s most critical problems.”
The NIFA budget as a whole would receive $1.271 billion for FY 2013, a decrease of approximately $82 million over the current level. This funding level, however, does not include t a number of mandatory programs that are awaiting reauthorization in the Farm Bill.
The Medical and Prosthetics Research Program would increase to $583 million, $2 million (0.3 percent) above the FY 2012 level. VA estimates that approximately 2,209 research grants will be funded through the Medical and Prosthetics Research Program in FY 2013. Projects will support fundamentally new directions for VA research, focused specifically on supporting development of new models of care, improving social reintegration following traumatic brain injury, reducing suicide, evaluating the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine, developing blood tests to assist in the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury, and advancing genomic medicine in VA through the use of new technology.