Agency Budgets for this Fiscal Year Still in Question

While tax cuts to stimulate the economy are getting a great deal of attention, federal agency budgets for Fiscal year 2011 which began on October 1, 2010, are still up in the air. On December 8, 2010, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would freeze discretionary spending in FY 2011 at FY 2010 levels.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders are looking for 60 votes to pass an omnibus bill that would be offered as a substitute for the House passed CR. The omnibus provides increases for NIH and NSF in FY 2010, but according to reports, also includes earmarks that concern many lawmakers.

Although some Republican appropriators have not ruled out voting for an omnibus, most are pushing for a short-term CR that would end early in 2011 when they will hold majority in the House. The current CR funding government programs expires on December 18, 2010.

At a time when America is losing its competitive edge internationally, the scientific community is alarmed that research which will boost the economy in the long term will take a hit in FY 2011 and into FY 2012.

In a recent Science editorial, Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, encouraged the scientific community to “reach out and speak to the public and policy-makers at both ends of the spectrum” to make the case for science. Leshner also called on scientists to reach out as a “united community,” stating “it is critical that no single discipline or research agenda attempt to promote itself at the expense of another.”