White House 2010 R&D Budget, Presented at AAAS, Offers Significant New Investment


John P. Holdren

Science-related agencies fare well in President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget for the 2010 fiscal year, according to White House science adviser John P. Holdren.

For timely analysis of federal research and development issues, visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program.

"We in the science and technology community have done better than just about any other constituency in these budgets," Holdren told a 7 May briefing for news media and stakeholders on the R&D component of president's proposed budget.

Obama's proposed budget includes $147.6 billion for research and development, an increase of $555 million (or 0.4 %) above the enacted 2009 budget. The 2009 budget also includes about $18.3 billion in R&D spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package passed recently by Congress. Some of that money will be spent in fiscal 2010.

In real terms, Holdren said, the enacted 2009 budget and the 2010 proposed budget are among the two largest R&D investments in the nation's history.

After four years of real decline in spending on basic and applied research from 2004 to 2008, the 2009 spending and the 2010 budget proposal represent "a real-dollar turnaround in federal research investments across the spectrum of the sciences and engineering," according to a fact sheet from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). AAAS provided its auditorium as a public service for the budget briefing, which was organized and hosted by OSTP.

Virtually every science-related agency is doing better now than it was two years ago, said Holdren, who served as AAAS president in 2006-2007 and as chair of the AAAS Board for a year after that.

The 2010 budget proposal, which must be approved by Congress, follows through on themes discussed by Obama during his address last month at the National Academy of Sciences, where he called for a renewed national commitment to science and education, with a goal eventually of spending more than 3 % of total U.S. economic output on research and development.

The 2010 budget proposal contains funds for a down-payment on Obama's call to double the federal investment over a decade in three key science agencies: the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The budget also emphasizes support for researchers at the beginning of their careers, including a plan to triple the number of Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation by 2013. Cora Marrett, acting deputy director of the National Science Foundation, said the number of fellowships will increase from 1200 in 2009 to more than 1600 in 2010.

Marrett said her agency will receive $7.045 billion overall in the proposed 2010 budget, an increase of 8.5 % above the 2009 appropriated level. Of that $7 billion, about $5.3 billion would go to R&D, a 9.4% increase above the FY 2009 enacted level. NSF also is receiving nearly $3 billion in Recovery Act funding.

The budget includes an increase of about $200 million in NSF's investment in climate change research across disciplines. It also calls for the establishment of a climate change education program to broaden learning from K-12 to the graduate school level and to increase public understanding of climate change and its consequences.

The National Institutes of Health would receive $30.8 billion under the proposal, an increase of $443 million or 1.5 % above the 2009 enacted level. NIH also received $10.4 billion in Recovery Act money to be spent in 2009 and 2010.

Christopher Scolese, the acting administrator of NASA, told the briefing that his agency would receive $18.686 billion under the proposed budget, up 5.1 %. His agency also is receiving about $1 billion in Recovery Act funding as it works to complete the assembly of the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet after 3 more flight in fiscal 2009 and 6 flights in fiscal 2010.


Jane Lubchenco

Holdren announced the formation of an independent blue-ribbon panel to review NASA's human spaceflight program and its plans for a new rocket and space capsule system to replace the shuttles. The panel will be led by Norman Augustine, the former chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin.

Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the briefing that her agency will receive $4.484 billion under Obama's proposal, with 12.7 % of that—or $568 million—going to R&D.

"Using these funds I believe NOAA will be able to make very significant progress toward addressing many of our primary goals," said Lubchenco, also a former AAAS president. Those goals, she said, include revival of fish populations, improved weather forecasting and disaster warning, providing credible information about climate change and ocean acidification, and protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems.

[See more details on the Obama Administration's 2010 budget proposal.]