Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

FY 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill

Earlier this week the full House Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out its version of an FY 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill. This appropriations bill includes funding for NSF, NOAA, NASA, OSTP, the Justice Department – including the FBI, the Census Bureau, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and other agencies. Overall, the FY 2020 CJS bill contains $74 billion which is an increase of $10 billion over the FY 2019 level.

The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee that was critical of some of the funding increases and omissions in the House CJS Appropriations bill. On NSF, OMB said, “The Subcommittee bill funds NSF at $1.6 billion above the requested level. This unrequested funding undermines the Administration’s intent to keep non-defense spending in check.” For NASA, OMB expressed disappointment that the bill failed to provide the funding needed to support the goal of a near-term human lunar landing. Notably for NOAA, OMB was silent on the increases above the budget request recommended by the Committee. A copy of the OMB letter can be found here.

Office of Science and Technology Policy

For the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Committee has provided the budget request of $5 million. The Committee included report language calling on OSTP to create and convene an interagency council on extreme weather resilience, preparedness, and risk identification and management for the purposes of developing a coordinated multi-agency plan, on an agency by agency basis, for government-wide implementation of resilience, preparedness, and risk management priorities. The Committee calls for this plan to be developed no later than 180 days after enactment of this legislation and to provide an interim report on the activities of this new interagency council to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this legislation.

National Science Foundation

For the National Science Foundation (NSF) the Committee is recommending a total of $8.6 billion which is $561 million more than the FY 2019 level and $1.6 billion more than requested by the Administration. The Committee noted its strong support for “basic research in fundamental science areas and expects that as NSF uses the 10 Big Ideas as a focusing tool, the funding for the fundamental scientific disciplines will be maintained.” Within the amounts provided, NSF is to allocate “no less than FY 2019 levels to support its existing scientific research, research laboratories, observational networks, and other research infrastructure assets, including the astronomy assets, the current academic research fleet, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and the national high-performance computing centers, so that they may provide the support needed for cutting edge research.”

For NSF’s Research and Related Activities Account the Committee is recommending $7.1 billion, an increase of $586 million over FY 2019 and $1.44 billion more than the Administration’s request. In the accompanying report the Committee has emphasized the following issues: artificial intelligence, lead detection, testing, and monitoring; advanced manufacturing; steel research; the EPSCOR program; marine research and related marine research facilities; astronomy; quantum information science and technology; geospatial data; international ocean drilling; high energy physics; harmful algal blooms; and support for funding the social and behavioral sciences.

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account is funded at $223.2 million which includes support for ongoing large-scale projects such as the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science project; the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and support to upgrade the Large Hadron Collider. This account also includes $45 million for NSF’s mid-scale infrastructure initiative.

NSF’s Education and Human Resources account is funded at $950 million, a $40 million increase over FY 2019 and $126.5 million over the request. The Committee’s recommendations include emphasis on programs related to broadening participation; Hispanic serving institutions; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and Early Childhood STEM Education grants.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

For the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Committee is recommending a total of $5.5 billion, which is $54.3 million above the FY 2019 level and $1 billion more than the Administration’s request.

For National Ocean Service (NOS) Operations, the Committee is recommending $642 million, an increase of $60.4 million above the FY 2019 level and $272.3 million above the Administration’s request. For Navigation, Observations, and Positioning the Committee is rejecting the proposed reductions in the Coastal Mapping program and in the repair and replacement of Coastal Observing Assets. The recommendation also rejects the proposal to eliminate the competitive regional geospatial modeling grants program. The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is funded at $40.4 million along with the proposal to eliminate IOOS grants. Coastal Science, Assessment, Response, and Restoration is funded at $84.5 million, including a $2 million increase in the Marine Debris program, the rejection of the proposal to eliminate the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and a restoration of the NCCOS competitive grants program. Not less than $10 million is provided for harmful algal bloom research and the Committee has encouraged NOS to perform “high-priority, cooperative habitat mapping in currently unmapped and disaster-prone areas, with priority given to areas where oil exploration is under consideration to better understand long-term implications.” Coastal Zone Management Grants are funded at $81 million as the Committee rejected the Administration’s proposal to eliminate this program. The Committee also provided $60 million for Title XI – Coastal Resiliency grants, also rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate this program. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System, instead of being eliminated receives a $2 million increase over FY 2019 to a level of $29 million and the Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas are slated to receive $56.5 million which is $5 million above the President’s request.

For the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) operations, the Committee is recommending a total of $595.4 million which is an increase of $70 million over FY 2019 and $286 million more than requested by the Administration. With these additional funds the Committee has restored climate research to a level of $186.5 million which is an increase of $27.5 million over FY 2019 and $99 million more than requested by the Administration. The Committee has rejected the Administration’s proposal to terminate the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (RISA) and instead provided a $3 million increase. For the U.S. Weather Research Program, the Committee is providing $37.4 million and rejects the proposal to terminate the Airborne Phase Array Radar research program, nor the research programs within the U.S. Weather Research Program which are maintained at their FY 2019 level. The Committee has rejected the proposal to terminate the Sea Grant program and instead funded it at a total of $85 million of which $12 million is for marine aquaculture. An additional $13 million for aquaculture is included in NOAA Fisheries. Ocean acidification research receives an $8 million increase. In support of NOAA’s efforts to improve the quality of weather forecasting, the Committee is supporting NOAA’s transition to high performance computing on the cloud.

The Committee recognized the efforts made by NOAA thus far in addressing issues related to sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Committee has provided no less than $1 million from funding provided for Mission Services and Management for continued efforts to reduce these incidents and provide aid and counseling to victims.

For the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) operations, the Committee is recommending $954.7 million which is $143 million above the Administration’s request. Within the funding for NMFS, the Committee has provided no less than $4 million for the Prescott program, provides $61.6 million for Habitat Conservation and Restoration, which is $23.8 million above the request, and $13 million for aquaculture research. The Committee provided an increase of nearly $20 million to NMFS enforcement targeting a significant portion of that increase to expand efforts to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing related to seafood import traceability and port security.

For the National Weather Service (NWS) operations, the Committee is recommending a total of $1.1 billion which is $110 million more than the amount requested by the Administration. Observations would be funded at a level of $230 million, a $6 million increase over FY 2019. A total of $22 million is provided for the National Mesonet Program. Within the Analyze, Forecast, and Support line item, the Committee is providing $546.3 million. This recommendation rejects the NWS’ proposed reduction to the Office of Water Prediction as well as the consolidation of the functions of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the Climate Prediction Center, and the Weather Prediction Center. Science and Technology Integration is funded at $147 million. Along with these funds, the Committee has rejected proposals to terminate support for Hydrology and Water Resources which includes NOAA’s National Water Center.

Within the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, the Committee has provided no less than $1.5 million for the use of airborne assets to conduct winter storm observations to better observe and predict extreme weather events. The Committee supports NOAA’s proposal to establish a centralized program for Unmanned Systems Operations, as authorized by the CENOTE Act of 2018. The Committee is providing $10.4 million above the request for Unmanned Systems Operations with direction that NOAA should prioritize operations and research for unmanned systems in consultation with the UxS Executive Oversight Board. Within these additional funds, $2 million for the competitive acquisition of unmanned systems data to augment NOAA’s observational resources.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the Committee is providing a total of $22.3 billion which is $815 million above the FY 2019 level and $1.3 billion above the Administration’s request. The Committee made note of the Administration’s proposal to emphasize funding related to establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon by either reducing or eliminating a number of legacy programs, “including Earth science programs that help monitor the environment, measure global climate change, and track rising sea levels. Additional programs proposed for elimination included: The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a NASA observatory designed to work with the James Webb Space Telescope; and the entire STEM Engagement account. The Committee rejected these proposals and included an additional $881.1 million above the request for these programs, including additional funding for competitive research grants within Earth Science and a nearly 12% increase in STEM engagement to a level of $123 million.

For the NASA Science account, the Committee is providing $7.2 billion which is $256 million over the FY 2019 level and $858 million more than the President’s request. Within the Science account, the Earth Science program would receive $2 billion which would restore a number of key NASA Earth Science programs that aim to understand the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induces forces and changes as well as help determine how to predict, adapt, and mitigate to future changes.

FY 2020 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill

After reporting out the CJS bill, the full Committee then marked up and reported out its version of the FY 2020 Interior-EPA Appropriations Act. This bill totals $37.3 billion which is $1.7 billion above the FY 2019 level and $7.2 billion over the FY 2020 request by the Administration. This bill includes funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). OMB’s letter to the House Appropriations Committee commenting on this bill can be found here.

U.S. Geological Survey

For the USGS the Committee is recommending $1.2 billion, which is $75.8 above the FY 2019 level and $252.9 million above the request. The Committee rejected the Administration’s funding reductions for National and Regional Climate Adaptation Centers. The bill provides $38.4 million, a $13 million increase for the Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The recommendation includes $4 million to establish a Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center to focus on and address the threats to natural and human communities in Midwest states and develop a more tailored strategic science agenda.

The Committee has included nearly $11 million for the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) to develop a plan to improve the topographic geological, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the data available electronically to support management of private-sector mineral exploration of critical minerals and for land use planning.

For Natural Hazards the Committee is recommending $172 million, $5.6 million over the FY 2019 level. Within this amount, the Committee provides $85.4 million for Earthquake hazards including $1.4 million for Earthscope USArray. The Volcano Hazard program is funded at $30.4 million maintaining the program at current levels. This funding will help the Survey ensure there is a system and equipment in place to monitor, detect, and warn the public of volcano and seismic hazards, including lahars, and earthquakes on high-threat volcanoes. The USGS Geomagnetism program, a part of the US Space Weather program is funded at $4.1 million and the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources program is funded at $40.7 million. For the Water Resources Research Institutes, the Committee is providing $10 million, an increase of $3.5 million over the FY 2019 level.

The National Geospatial Program is funded at $84.6 million, an increase of $15.2 million over last year. This funding includes the following increases: $5 million for 3DEP National Enhancement to accelerate achievement of 100% coverage of the Great Lakes region; $5 million to work with State Geologic Surveys to develop a 3D Geologic Map GIS Database and migrate current and prior geologic mapping into a unified common GIS data standard; $2 million for the US Topo program to procure product-on-demand updates; and $3 million to produce digital surface models using unclassified satellite optical data for the U.S. and territories not mapped with LiDAR by 2021 in collaboration with appropriate U.S. agencies including the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The Committee supports the continued collaboration with partners to leverage the resources provided for 3DEP to achieve the goal of national coverage by 2026. The Committee also acknowledges the National Geospatial Program’s interest in any technology, systems, or partners that can accelerate or meet 3DEP requirements, regardless of the source (i.e. industry, academia, etc.).

Environmental Protection Agency

For the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the bill provides a total of $9.52 billion which is $672 million above the 2019 enacted level and $3.4 billion above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, the bill includes: $3.4 billion for EPA’s core science and environmental program work, an increase of $105 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1 billion above the President’s budget request. Within these amounts, the bill includes: $476 million for Geographic Programs which help with restoration of nationally significant bodies of water like the Great Lakes ($305 million), Chesapeake Bay ($85 million), Puget Sound ($31 million), and Long Island Sound ($20 million). This is an increase of $19 million above the 2019 enacted level and $438 million above the President’s budget request; $21 million for the National Estuary Program; $108 million for Water: Human Health Protection – a level that will allow the Beach program to remain at its FY 2019 level; $97.2 million for the EPA Atmospheric Protection program – the increase will support the greenhouse gas reporting program and the preparation of the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, in fulfillment of U.S. treaty obligations under the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change.