R&D in the FY 2014 Omnibus: Dept. of Homeland Security

Appropriators largely agreed on DHS R&D funding levels, which could reach their highest point in five years.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recently the subject of some criticism and funding cuts by appropriators, is set to return to prior R&D funding levels. According to AAAS estimates, DHS R&D will reach $1.1 billion under the FY 2014 omnibus, representing substantial apparent increases above FY 2012 and FY 2013 (though truth be told, there should be some skepticism regarding the accuracy of the agency's reported FY 2012 figure, and the FY 2013 figure is an estimate).

What's noticeable is how much all involved parties seem to agree on the agency's FY 2014 funding levels. The Science & Technology Directorate (S&T), the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and the small programs at Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard are all in the same ballpark between the White House, the appropriations bills from last summer, and the omnibus. This is something of a rarity in the present funding environment.

One exception is funding for construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a BioSafety Level 4 site in Kansas that will study emerging diseases and replace the existing Plum Island facility. The White House asked for $714 million for NBAF; appropriators in both chambers have never been willing to give more than $404 million. These figures show up within the "Laboratory Facilities" line in the Science & Technology Directorate listings above (also see our previous coverage from last summer as the DHS bill wound through Congress). Outside of NBAF, appropriators have also granted an increase to S&T's university programs, and are encouraging S&T to further prioritize cybersecurity research and improve industry outreach.

In historical terms, DHS R&D funding under the omnibus would represent its highest point in constant dollars since FY 2009, and helps to offset multiple years of cuts. Again, the agency's reported FY 2012 R&D figure should be taken with a big grain of salt, though the discretionary budget growth from FY 2012 to FY 2013 shown above is very real.