The deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction came and went and neither party could agree on a deficit reduction plan. While the “Super Committee” failed in its task, Congress passed and the President signed the first Fiscal Year 2012 “minibus” spending bill. You may recall that this bill provides funding for research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institutes of Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bill also includes a short term continuing resolution to keep the government running until December 16th. The nine remaining spending bills will likely be completed through an omnibus bill before the CR expires on the 16th of December.
The top-line numbers for the FY 2012 “minibus” are as follows:
NSF: $7.03 billion, $173 million above FY 2011.
NASA: $17.8 billion, $648 million below FY 2011 (the Science account within NASA, was increased 3%, and the James Webb Space Telescope that was cut in the House and funded in the Senate, received the $529.6 million needed to stay on task for the 2018 launch date).
NOAA: $4.89 billion, $306 million above FY 2011.
NIST: $751 million, $33 million above FY 2011.
NIFA: $1.215 billion, $128 million below FY 2011.
OSTP: $4.5 million, $2.1 million below FY 2011.
USPTO: $2.7 billion, $588 million above FY 2011.
On our radar screen is the Grant Reform and New Transparency Act of 2011 (Grant Act- HR 3433). This piece of legislation was recently marked up by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with the intention of directing agencies to establish a uniform standard for how they notice, award and disclose the billions of taxpayer dollars spent each year through the 1,670 discretionary grant programs. Some provisions that will likely receive scrutiny are the single website for grant opportunities and making public, detailed information on the grant application and review process.
What happens now that the “Super Committee” was unable to reach a deficit reduction deal? Sequestration! Although this measure won’t take affect until January of 2013, it appears that some members of Congress will be looking for ways to avoid significant cuts. The most concerning cuts are those to the defense discretionary spending and the impact on the military. However if the focus is solely on defense than this could lead to additional cuts in non-defense discretionary spending, where most of our research support derives from.