A Periodic Federal Science Update

FY 2017 and FY 2018 Federal Budget Update – It is being reported that the Congressional leadership has asked the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to resume their negotiations on a final year long FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill.  Currently the federal government is operating on a stop gap funding measure known as a Continuing Resolution (CR).  The current CR runs until the end of April whereupon it either gets extended, replaced by a year long appropriations bill, or expires and the federal government shuts down.  There are numerous budgetary and political issues that need to be addressed within this appropriations act(s) prior to it being sent to the White House.  Such issues include additional defense spending and funding for the start of the wall President Trump promised during the campaign.

As for FY 2018, it now appears the Trump Administration is planning to release an overview of their FY 2018 budget proposals in mid March.  The new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Representative Mick Mulvaney, was confirmed by the Senate on February 16, 2017 and was immediately sworn in.  Agencies are due to received their budget guidance from OMB as early as Friday, February 24.  The current statutory funding levels for FY 2018 are approximately $4 billion below the level for FY 2017.  The Trump Administration is expected to propose a budget that seeks to raise defense spending, while scaling back significantly on non-defense discretionary programs.  This budget proposal will be released while many agencies still lack new Presidentially appointed officials to manage the agencies and make policy.

Accomplishments of the U.S. Global Change Research Program -- Established under the Global Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has provided strategic planning and coordination to 13 participating federal agencies working to advance the science of global environmental change. This new report highlights accomplishments of the program, both in through its coordinating work and the many synthesis and assessment products it has published to share research findings with decision makers and the public. 

One of the first priorities of the program was to address the need for a global observational system. Today there is a large and growing portfolio of global measurements from space designed to inform global change science. Other demonstrable contributions of USGCRP include significant improvements in Earth-system modeling capabilities and advancement in understanding of carbon-cycle processes. USGCRP has also made considerable strides in making scientific knowledge more useful to decision makers. For example, it has documented substantial increases in heavy downpours in most regions of the United States over the past 50 years, which can cause flooding that overwhelms the existing infrastructure of sewers and roads. Awareness of such trends can help governments, businesses, and citizens respond accordingly in many realms, including agriculture, conservation, and human health. 

In the face of increasing impacts from climate change and other global changes, the report recommends that the USGCRP build on its accomplishments by sustaining, expanding, and coordinating observations of the Earth system and maintaining a balanced program of discovery-driven and use-inspired research to support the needs of the nation at local, regional, national, and global scales. USGCRP will need to make further progress in incorporating the social sciences into its work to provide the information needed to effectively and efficiently manage current and likely consequences of global change.  Download the report here.

Aquaculture Funding Opportunity Announced by Sea Grant - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking research grant funding applications for its national initiative "... designed to foster the expansion of sustainable U.S. marine, coastal, and Great Lakes aquaculture. Successful applications must outline integrated projects that clearly address major constraints, barriers, or hurdles limiting United States aquaculture production ..." - Eligible applicants include "... any individual; any public or private corporation, partnership, or other association or entity (including any Sea Grant College, Sea Grant Institute or other institution); or any State, political subdivision of a State, Tribal government or agency or officer ..." - NOAA anticipates having approximately $12,000,000 in total available grant funds for the program with an award ceiling of $1,000,000.  Download a copy of the solicitation here.