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White House Requests Varied Increases in New Budget, With Greater Detail to Come

Just a few weeks after the approval of the FY 2022 budget, the Biden Administration has released the FY 2023 Presidential Budget Request. While full details and documentation are not yet available for every agency, several large research funders like NSF, NIH, NASA, and USDA have published full justifications.

The Administration has also not yet published complete R&D data for the FY 2023 request, though that should be coming soon. Unfortunately, comparable and reliable R&D data for FY 2022 likely won’t be available for some time, since the ink is still drying on the FY 2022 omnibus increases, and agencies will have had no time to generate proper estimates.

With all that said, here’s how things stack up.

The Big Picture and Major Priorities

The $5.8 trillion dollar request includes a 9.4% increase for nondefense discretionary spending and a 4.0% increase in defense discretionary. This matters because just about all federal R&D is in the discretionary budget, and big-picture changes in the discretionary budget are a good leading indicator of what might happen with R&D.

The FY 2023 request represents a moderated approach compared to the first Biden budget, which would have held defense spending while boosting nondefense spending far more. Differences between that initial proposal and the final discretionary figures in the omnibus contributed to the less ambitious increases for nondefense agencies and bigger boosts for defense research in FY 2022.

Throughout the budget, several priority areas stand out:

Climate Science and Response. Climate research would receive a boost through the budget request, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture investing $24 million for climate research in its Climate Hubs, NASA requesting nearly $3 billion in climate programs, and the National Science Foundation requesting $1.6 billion for climate research and development. While the full details of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget have not been released yet, climate resilience and research will remain priorities for a research office budget set to grow. The Department of Defense also has funds for climate resilience work.

Improving Manufacturing and Supply Chains.  These have been priorities of the Biden Administration from day one and continue to be seen in the FY 2023 request. For instance, much of the increased funding for National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is through expansions of the Hollings Manufacturing and Manufacturing USA programs, totaling $372 million, though NIST lab funding would also rise. DOE also requested increases for clean energy manufacturing research, which includes $200 million for a solar manufacturing accelerator and $1 billion for the clean energy manufacturing program. NSF has also marked advanced manufacturing as a priority, intending to dedicate $421 million to the topic through grants and workforce development programs.  

Diversity/Equity. In several places, the Administration would focus investments on Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to bolster their facilities and research capability, as well as increases to the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a program that seeks to enhance the research capabilities of designated ‘underperforming’ states. On top of a funding increase, NSF rebranded its Education and Human Resources Directorate to the Division of Equity for Excellent in STEM to reflect a focus on encouraging participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM. NASA’s STEM Engagement office also continues to engage underserved populations in science through a proposed 9.6% increase. In addition, DOE would make investments into research for advanced technology to revitalize communities in accordance with Justice40 goals.

Innovative Research Institutions. It’s not just research that is getting a boost, but novel funding mechanisms too. Multiple Advanced Research Projects Agencies, or ARPAs, were launched last year or are otherwise getting their first substantial funding with the 2023 request. That includes $3.2 million for planning for a new ARPA-Infrastructure within the Department of Transportation, and $4.9 million for AgARDA, as well as $5 billion for ARPA-Health. Existing ARPAs in energy and defense are slated for large increases as well. In addition, the Administration is taking another run at sizable funding for the NSF’s new Technology and Innovation Partnership (TIP) Directorate.

Pandemic Preparedness. The pandemic continues to be front and center in the budget, with $81.7 billion for pandemic preparedness that would be available across Health and Human Services (HHS) over the next five years. $12 billion of that would go to NIH, and $9.9 billion to the Centers for Disease Control. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would also receive a boost for research into long COVID, among other projects.

 

A Deeper Look at the Agencies:

A bar graph depicting the percent increases or decreases of science and technology programs in the 2023 presidential request as compared to the 2022 omnibus numbers

NSF would see an 18.8% increase in total funding above the FY 2022 omnibus, with a total of $880 million outlined for the new tech directorate. The budget also calls for $1.6 billion in climate and energy research, a 77% increase from the FY 2022 omnibus, and $393 million for programs to increase the participation of underrepresented individuals in STEM as part of the restructuring mentioned above.

U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive more than $4 billion for its agriculture research, education and outreach programing, including a 16.2% increase to the Agricultural Research Service, a 12.2% increase to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (which includes a 26.7% increase to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative) and a 13.9% increase to the Economic Research Service, all above FY 2022 omnibus levels. $63 million of those funds are marked for programs on tribal lands, and $315 million is for research to be performed at HBCUs.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a requested increase of 22.8%, with a 54.4% increase to its Energy and Minerals division, though other areas would receive big boosts as well. Ecosystems (35.2%), Core Science Systems (32.2%), Science Support (29.5%) and Natural Hazards (18.2%) all have sizable increases in the request.  Significant plus-ups above the 2022 omnibus include renewable energy resource assessments on federal land, research on critical minerals, support for the Climate Adaptation Science Centers, and other areas.

NASA requests a 7.9% total increase to its portfolio, but with some programs up for increases and others remaining level or even decreasing. Space Technology would receive a 30.7% increase in the request compared to the 2022 omnibus, which kept prior funding flat despite a requested increase, and Deep Space Exploration would receive a 9.2% increase. The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) would see a 7.2% increase, but with only marginal increases in funding at best for heliophysics, planetary science and the James Webb Space Telescope, and the bulk of the SMD boost directed to Earth Sciences.

Department of Defense (DOD) Science & Technology again fares poorly in the request, after Congress saved DOD research programs from cuts in the 2022 omnibus. Overall Defense S&T would decline by $2.5 billion or 13%, including a 14% cut to basic science from omnibus levels. University research initiatives would decline by 27% military-wide, while STEM education at minority-serving institutions would receive an even larger cut. On the other hand, DARPA would receive a 10% increase.

The DOE Office of Science would see only a 4.3% increase, with the biggest increase to its Biological and Environmental Research program, similar to last year’s request. Outside the Office of Science, ARPA-Energy would receive a massive 75% increase, while other DOE tech programs more modest than last year’s request.

NIH’s requested budget has disappointed some advocates. It would see a 35.3% increase overall, but this is almost entirely due $12.1 billion allocated for Mandatory Pandemic Preparedness and $5 billion for ARPA-Health. If one excludes the Mandatory Pandemic Preparedness account and ARPA-H from the total, NIH would only see a 0.6% increase over the omnibus level. Despite this low total, some institutes would see substantial rises. For instance, the Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities would see a 43.7% increase in the request and Drug Abuse would see 15.5% alongside the Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s 15.1%.

Authors

Alessandra Zimmermann

Writer/Analyst

Matt Hourihan

Director