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Federal Budget Update: FY14 Appropriations Announced

The House and Senate have negotiated an appropriations bill that will fund the Federal government for the remainder of federal Fiscal Year (FY) 20141. The bill establishes a non-defense discretionary spending target of $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.14 trillion in 2015. The bill does roll back some of the spending cuts under sequestration and preliminary analyses suggest that many Research & Development (R&D) agencies would recover the funding lost from sequestration with a number of agencies poised to receive funding allocations slightly ahead of FY 12 levels.

Below are some initial projections for the federal agencies that may be of interest to NIU faculty and staff. The Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships will continue to update the campus with more detailed funding information as more appropriation analyses are completed.

National Science Foundation: The NSF will receive a 4% increase, or $288 million over FY 13. The bill included full funding for the international ocean drilling program and the Noyce scholars program to train science teachers while removing restrictions on Political Science programs. Other appropriations for general NSF activities include: $5.8 billion for research and related activities, $846.5 million for education and human resources, and $200 million for major research equipment and facilities construction. Preliminary estimates project that the increase will allow the Foundation to support 780 more competitive grants.

National Institutes of Health: While nearly all institutes will get a modest bump, funding remains lower than FY 12 levels meaning the agency has still not regained its footing due to last year’s funding drop. The National Institute on Aging received a funding boost due to both Congress’ and the White House’s aim to focus research on Alzheimer’s disease as did the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke due in part to the President’s BRAIN initiative. NIH will continue to fund its science education programs while Congress debates the President’s proposal to consolidate federal STEM education programs. Preliminary estimates indicate that the bill will allow NIH to fund 385 more research grants than it did in 2013.

Department of Defense: While the agency will experience a $6.9 billion decrease in research and development, several marked increases in DOD research programs include: $256 million for cancer research, $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research, $20 million for suicide prevention outreach programs, $157 million for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, as well as an additional $25 million to expand the Sexual Assault Victims’ Counsel program to all the military services.

Department of Energy: DOE will receive a 20% increase over sequestration levels and a 9.3 % increase above FY 12 levels (or a 5.3 percent increase in constant dollars). The DOE Office of Science is the primary federal agency supporting basic energy research as well as directly supporting open access user facilities (e.g., Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab). Basic research programs in Advanced Computing, Fusion Energy and Nuclear Physics fared exceptionally well as did High Energy Physics. The Advanced Research Projects –Agency (ARPA-E) fared better than expected while the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (OERE) stands poised to shift its funding from bioenergy to advanced manufacturing.

Department of Education (and International Education Programs): The FY 14 budget appropriation for the Department of Education is $70.6 billion, representing a $740 million decrease from FY 13 pre-sequestration levels. Despite the decrease, Congress appropriated $75 million for the new First in the World (FITW) program. FITW has been billed as a replacement for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education’s Comprehensive Program and modeled after Investing in Innovation (i3).

International education programs, including Fulbright-Hays grants and Title VI were funded at $72.1 million, representing a modest recovery from sequester induced cuts. Title VI programs include programs such as the Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowships and National Resource Centers. Also of note, the FY 2014 omnibus did not heed the recommendation from last year’s Senate report that $2 million be set aside for study abroad under Section 604(b) of the Higher Education Act and instead encourages the Department of Education to explore other sources of support for study abroad.

Most Education programs, particularly those within the Office of Postsecondary Education (Titles III and V, TRIO, GEAR UP) will receive level funding for the third straight year. Appropriations included a complete lack of funding for the Top College Affordability programs, instead allotting an increase in the Federal Pell Grant to $5,730; with total funding for the Pell Grant Program at $22.8 billion. Work study received $975 million while the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need and Javits Fellowship programs received a combined $29 million.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)/National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): Each agency will be funded at just over $146 million for FY 14, a decrease of about $250,000 from pre-sequestration FY 13 levels. Appropriations for the NEA are being well received after last year’s sequestration cuts threatened to reduce the agency by 49 percent.

Institute for Museum and Library Science: The agency will experience a modest decrease in funding from $232 million in FY 13 (pre-sequestration) to $226.86 million in FY 14.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: The agency will receive $445 million for FY 14. This funding in consistent with the agency’s FY 13 pre-sequester funding level.

1 The Federal FY runs October 1 – September 30.