(This analysis is a preview of the
Interior section in the forthcoming AAAS Report XXXII: Research and Development
FY 2008, a comprehensive look at the President's budget for R&D in FY
2008. This analysis contains revised AAAS estimates of Interior R&D, different
from figures originally presented in the President's budget. More tables and continually
updated supplemental materials on R&D in the FY 2008 budget can be found on
the AAAS R&D Web site at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd.)
R&D in Interiorís lead science agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), would fall $23 million
or 4.0 percent in the FY 2008 budget from the recently finalized 2007 appropriation
(see Table II-16). As in previous years, the cuts
would be concentrated in USGSí mineral resources and water resources R&D.
R&D in the Department of the Interior would fall 2.9 percent to $621 million.
The FY 2008 cut to Interior R&D would
mark the seventh year out of the last eight that Interior R&D funding has
lost ground to inflation.
USGS R&D in the FY 2008 Budget
Department of the Interior manages most of the publicly owned lands in the United States, from the national park system to Indian lands
to publicly owned mines. R&D to support Interiorís land management responsibilities
would total $621 million in the FY 2008 budget, a cut of $19 million or 2.9 percent
from the recently finalized 2007 appropriation, mirroring proposed cuts in other
environmental R&D agencies (see Table II-16).
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the
primary sponsor of R&D in Interior. USGS is one of the leading federal sponsors
of earth sciences research, along with the Department of Energy, the National
Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Within the earth sciences, USGS is particularly important in geological hazards
research, including research on earthquakes and volcanoes. USGS is also a leading
sponsor of water resources research and biological research. Because of these
characteristics, USGS is left well out of the spotlight that shines on basic research
in the physical sciences in the Bush Administrationís American Competitiveness
Initiative. While the FY 2008 budget proposes substantial increases for key physical
sciences research programs, the Presidentís budget proposes $975 million for the
total USGS budget, a cut of $3 million from a 2007 appropriation that was just
finalized on February 15 and also a cut from the 2006 budget of $977 million (see
R&D totals $547 million in the FY 2008 request for a cut of $23 million or
4.0 percent (see Table II-16). Just over half of the USGS budget is devoted
to R&D activities, with the remainder going for science support, data gathering
and dissemination, facilities operations, mapping, and natural hazards reduction.
R&D funding would decline in three of the four USGS research divisions,
with only the Biological Research Division showing a slight increase.
Geologic Hazards, Resources, and Processes Division would see its R&D funding
cut $16 million or 7.3 percent down to $198 million, but as in past years this
proposal is unlikely to make it through Congress. In what is now an annual ritual,
USGS proposes to cut the $53 million mineral resources R&D program in half
to just $30 million, just as it has in the last several requests. But in past
years, Congress has disagreed strongly with USGSí rationale that minerals research
could be funded by the private sector, and has repeatedly reaffirmed the federal
role in minerals research with restored funding. There would be a modest $3 million
in new funding for oceans research, to go along with larger infusions of new money
for oceans research in the NSF and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) budgets. Half of the new USGS money would be in the Geologic division,
and the other half in Water Resources. In another earth sciences-related division,
Geography R&D would fall $2 million down to $42 million after a one-year increase
in 2007 to pay for Landsat upgrades.
Resources Investigations R&D would fall $8 million or 6.2 percent to $119
million, but Congress is likely to reject these cuts as it has in the past. USGS
puts forward its perennial proposal to eliminate federal funding for the water
resources research institutes for a savings of $6 million in 2008, but Congress
has rejected similar proposals in past years and has preserved the federal role
in these cooperatively funded institutes. The Cooperative Water Program would
decline slightly to $62 million. This program supports the collection of basic
hydrologic data, studies of specific water-resources problems, and hydrologic
research through USGS partnerships with state governments and other entities.
Funding for the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program would fall to $14 million; the
program is a collaborative effort of USGS scientists, university and private-sector
researchers, and state, local, and other federal agency scientists to conduct
long-term research on water resource contamination in surface and groundwater
environments. There would be a slight increase for the National Water Quality Assessment Program
(NAWQA) to $65 million; NAWQA is charged with monitoring the nationís water
quality, and its data are used by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and many state regulatory agencies. The remaining water portfolio
would mostly stay flat, although some funding would be shifted from R&D activities
to the mostly non-R&D National Streamflow Information Program.
biological research programs would barely increase to $181 million. The largest
increase in USGS would go to the newly created Enterprise Information unit, whose
R&D funding would increase from $5 million to $7 million. This mostly non-R&D
unit contains the National Geospatial Program transferred from the Geography R&D
Figure 1. (click on the image for
Other Interior Agencies
USGS is the primary science agency in Interior, four other Interior bureaus also
fund R&D (see Table II-16). These include funds
for minerals and mining research in the Minerals and Management Service (MMS),
wildfire prevention research in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), water resources
research in the Bureau of Reclamation, and R&D for the Florida Everglades
restoration and other park-related projects in the National Park Service.
Impacts of the FY 2008 Interior Budget
physical sciences research would be a high priority in the FY 2008 budget, environmental
research funding would decline along with other domestic programs. The
FY 2008 cut to Interior R&D would mark the seventh year out of the last eight
that Interior R&D funding has lost ground to inflation (see Figure 1),
and would leave the department more than 25 percent below the funding levels at
the beginning of this decade. Interior R&D has declined sharply since FY 1994,
primarily because of the elimination of the Bureau of Mines in FY 1996 and the
merging of the former National Biological Service into USGS in the mid-1990s.
After a large increase in FY 2000, Interior R&D has been mostly flat since
then, resulting in steady losses after adjusting for inflation. 84 percent of
Interiorís R&D is performed in-house, with only 8 percent performed at universities
and colleges. Industries, state governments, and nonprofits combined perform the
remaining 8 percent of Interior R&D.
support for research has followed trends in Interior R&D, because nearly all of Interiorís R&D portfolio is research with only a
small amount for development. A third of Interiorís research goes to the life
sciences (see Figure 2), primarily from the Biological Research Division. Life
sciences research increased with the creation of the National Biological Service
in the early 1990s, but budget cuts in subsequent years have eroded support. 60
percent of Interior research goes to the environmental sciences, primarily in
earth-related fields such as geology. Interior support for environmental sciences
research has declined steadily as the USGS budget has lost purchasing power. Interior
used to be a significant supporter of engineering research, but this support was
almost entirely eliminated with the closure of the Bureau of Mines.
Figure 2. (click on the image for
now takes up the Interior budget. Despite a change in party control, there are
likely to be few changes in the script for how Congress responds to the Presidentís
request. Appropriators are likely once again to restore the proposed cuts in cooperative
water research and mineral resources and turn a falling USGS R&D budget to
at least a flat one. But it remains to be seen whether they will be able to reverse
the longstanding decline in Interior R&D investments.
materials on R&D in the FY 2008 budget, historical data and charts, and more
information on AAAS Report XXXII: Research and Development FY 2008, can
be found on the AAAS R&D Web site at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd.)
March 7, 2007
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
1200 New York Avenue,
Washington, DC 20005
AAAS R&D Web site: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd