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May 23, 2017


President Trump and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney


The White House's Fiscal 2018 budget request would slash the National Science Foundation by about 11 percent, Department of Energy Office of Science by 14 percent, and National Institutes of Health by 20 percent. It proposes winding down the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy. Defense and NASA R&D get a modest uptick, but DoD would trim basic research and NASA would lose five earth science missions. 

The Trump administration wants to trim non-defense discretionary spending, which pays for much of the nation's research funding, over 10 years from the current level of 2.7 percent of GDP down to 1.2 percent of GDP.   

Agency Budgets

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: The agency's $6.65 billion request is $841 million lower than the FY 2016 enacted level, which basically stayed the same in 2017. It would drop the proposal success rate to 19 percent from 20 percent and fund 800 fewer research grants. The number of Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellows would be cut in half, to 1,000. Computer and Information Science and Engineering would go from $935 million to $834 million; the Engineering directorate would be drop from $915 million to $834 million. A White House document says: "The budget proposes cuts to several programs that were increased during the last Administration, including funding for Clean Energy R&D, the Ocean Observatories Initiative, and Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Services to focus on NSF's core research programs."  

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: The Office of Science would drop from about $5.8 billion to $4.9 billion. "Priorities include keeping (fusion energy sciences) user facilities world-leading, increasing investment in massively parallel computing, supporting high-impact research in fusion materials, strengthening partnerships for access to international facilities with unique capabilities, learning how to predict and control transient events in fusion plasmas, and continuing stewardship of discovery plasma science (e.g., via intermediate-scale basic facilities)." The Energy Frontier Research Center program will continue. "Both the core research and the EFRC program will emphasize emerging high priorities in quantum materials and chemistry, catalysis science, synthesis, instrumentation science, and materials and chemical research related to interdependent energy-water issues." Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would see a cut from $2.1 billion to $1.3 billion. All but $20 million, plus prior-year balances, would be cut from ARPA-E - leaving enough "to execute the termination" of the agency. A document says the budget "[f]ocuses funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Fossil Energy Research and Development program on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities where the Federal role is stronger."

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The medical research agency's budget would fall from $31.7 billion to $25.7 billion, with $282 million going to the National Institute of biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The administration sees "significant savings" from cutting reimbursement of grantee indirect, or overhead, costs "so that available funding can be better targeted toward supporting the highest priority research on diseases that affect human health. . . . The Budget includes an indirect cost rate for NIH grants that will be capped at 10 percent of total research." 

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: The president's budget would increase overall defense spending by $52 billion and total research, development, testing, and evaluation by $10 billion. However, basic and applied research would fall below currently enacted levels as shown in these figures provided by Coalition for National Security Research chair John Latini of Penn State. All the numbers are in thousands.    

Within those numbers, Army, Navy, and Air Force University Research Initiatives would see cuts below the current enacted levels, as would the Army's University and Industry Research Centers. Defense-wide basic research would get a slight increase and DARPA would grow by 9.7 percent. 

NASA: The space agency's science mission would see a modest increase, from $5.6 billion to $5.7 billion. However, ScienceInsider notes that the budget "would kill off a research program necessary for establishing effective carbon monitoring in the United States and other countries, potentially jeopardizing the type of carbon accounting necessary to carry out the Paris climate agreement."


'CRIPPLE' . . . 'DEVASTATE': "The Administration’s FY18 budget would effectively cripple our nation’s scientific efforts, undermining our economic growth, public health, and national security." -- Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman.

The double-digit percentage reductions President Donald Trump is proposing in his fiscal 2018 budget plan for science and technology programs would “devastate America’s science and technology enterprise” and weaken the nation’s economic growth. -- Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"If enacted, the administration’s budget would have devastating short and long-term consequences for the United States and the American people.  It would threaten the United States’ role as an economic superpower.  We urge Congress to reject these proposed cuts and instead build upon recent progress that includes increased investments in NIH research and restoring year-round Pell grants." – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson.