Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Federal Update for January 12, 2012

Fiscal Year 2012 Megabus Appropriations Update and Summary

The final appropriations measure for Fiscal Year 2012 was signed by President Obama on January 23, 2011. With the President's signature, the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations process is now complete. The trillion-dollar compromise package incorporates the remaining nine individual spending bills into a package called the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, or the so-called "megabus" spending bill. The nine bills include: Defense, Energy and Water, Interior and Environment, Homeland Security, Financial Services, Labor, HHS and Education, State and Foreign Operations, Military Construction and Veterans, and the Legislature. A minibus was passed earlier that included Transportation and HUD, Agriculture, and Commerce, Justice and Science.

A few things to note:

• The Pell Grant maximum is sustained, with offsets;
• Total R&D investment is essentially flat-funded, which is good news given real and threatened budget cuts across the government;
• Defense R&D is down overall, but basic and applied research saw moderate boosts;
• The bill was fairly generous to energy and environment R&D, including at the Office of Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, ARPA-E, U.W. Geological Survey, and the Environmental Protection Agency;
• NIH funding is essentially unchanged. The final bill provides $576 million for establishment of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences within NIH.

Department of Education

The Pell Grant maximum is sustained at $5,550 with offsets. The changes to Pell to provide for sustaining the maximum at current levels include:

• Eligibility limit of 12 full-time semesters, cut from 18 full-time semesters;
• "Automatic zero" Expected Family Contributions (EFC) income levels are cut back from $30,000 to $23,000;
• No grant eligibility for students without a high school diploma or equivalent;
• Two-year moratorium on the six-month grace period on interest on subsidized loans after graduation or withdrawal; and
• Students must be eligible for at least 10% of maximum award to receive a minimum award.

For other priority Education programs:

• SEOG is level-funded at $735 million;
• Federal Work Study is level-funded at $978 million;
• TRIO is increased to $841.5 million total, up $15 million;
• GEARUP is level-funded at $302 million;
• Javits, which the Administration requested be combined with GAANN, is merged with GAANN, but total funding has not been increased. The new GAANN/Javits program is funded at $31 million, equivalent to the Fiscal Year 2011 level of GAANN alone;
• The Education international programs are provided with $74.2 million, approximately $1.5 million less than in Fiscal Year 2011.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH holds steady. Highlights of the NIH bill include:

• Conferees urge NIH to maintain extramural research at least at 90% of the NIH budget in Fiscal Year 2012;
• NIH is urged to establish safeguards to ensure the percentage of funds used to support basic research across NIH is maintained;
• Conference agreement includes language to create a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a $576 million center aimed to "reengineer" the process by which new discoveries in fundamental science move from lab to clinic. In doing so, the bill also eliminates the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR);
• The National Institute of General Medical Sciences will see a $396 million or 19.5% increase;
• The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration see substantial cuts in R&D budgets of 11.4% and 28.5%, respectively;
• The Salary cap is reduced from the current Executive Level I ($199,700) to Executive Level II ($179,700), as requested in the President's budget.

Department of Energy (DOE)

The bill actually increases R&D funding at the Department of Energy.

• Of the $25.7 billion allocated for the DOE in Fiscal Year 2012, the Office of Science (SC) will receive $4.889 billion, a moderate increase. Of note in the Office of Science report language:

"The conferees are concerned the Department is over-committing future budgets by announcing multi-year awards subject to future appropriations for a substantial portion of activities within Energy Programs. The Department is directed to transition to a model in which it fully funds multi-year awards with appropriated funds, except in the cases of major capital projects, management and operating contracts, and large research centers which require multi-year awards subject to appropriations…The conferees do not include a House provision prohibiting the use of multi-year awards, but will reconsider this legislative prohibition in future years depending on the Department's performance in transitioning to fully funding its multi-year awards."

• The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's overall budget remains steady, and the portion devoted to R&D will increase above Fiscal Year 2011 levels by 36.7%, or $283 million; whereas, fossil energy R&D will actually decrease in Fiscal Year 2012 by $70 million, or 15.4% below Fiscal Year 2011 levels;
• The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will receive $275 million, a $95 million increase over its Fiscal Year 2011 level of $180 million, but below the President's request of $650 million;
• The Energy Frontier Research Centers program will receive $100 million for continued funding of current projects;
• There will be two new Innovation Hubs funded at $20 million each, one for Critical Materials (from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy) and a Battery Storage Hub (from SC). All currently funded Hubs will also receive appropriations of $24.3 million each.

Department of Defense

On balance, there are moderate reductions in overall Defense research and development activities, with notable exceptions in basic and applied research. RDT&E funding stands at $72.9 billion, a 3.4 percent decrease from last year's levels. Most of these cuts are the products of reductions in development, demonstration, and support activities. For instance, advanced technology and components development are each seeing cuts greater than 5 percent below Fiscal Year 2011 levels. These cuts are partially offset by increases to basic and applied research, which combined will receive a $421 billion or 6.5 percent increase above Fiscal Year 2011 levels. As a result, science and technology spending actually holds steady from last year in the aggregate, but the character changes. Among the services, Army sees the greatest reduction in RDT&E spending, at $927 million or 9.6 percent below Fiscal Year 2011 levels, while Navy and Air Force hold nearly steady; conversely, Army sees the largest increase in science and technology activities, receiving $364 million or 16.8 percent more for basic and applied research and advanced technology development than in Fiscal Year 2011, while Navy and Air Force see very small cuts. Defense-wide agencies will see the largest cuts of all, with Fiscal Year 2012 funding reduced by $1.6 billion below Fiscal Year 2011 levels. Lastly, note that university research partnerships will see a 10 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2012.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

The NEH receives $146 million for Fiscal Year 2012, equal to the President's request, but below the Fiscal Year 2011 level of $155 million.


The Higher Education in Africa program is supported with a request of $15 million in the report language. The Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs) are provided $31.5 million in the bill text.

US Geological Survey (USGS)

The USGS Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRI) is provided with $6.5 million, a slight increase from the $6.486 million provided in Fiscal Year 2011. The largest increases come through climate and land use change research and core science systems. Water resources research will also see a moderate increase. The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRUs) are provided with $18.78 million, a decrease from the $18.9 million CRU received in Fiscal Year 2011.

EPA Office of Science and Technology

The EPA Office of Science and Technology received $795 million, a decrease from the $813 million received in Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate Research account received $266 million, a 54% decrease from Fiscal Year 2011. The conference report directs DHS to "prioritize this consolidated research budget, which is substantially reduced from recent fiscal years, to focus on areas with the greatest promise for delivering material improvements or tangible contributions to homeland security missions in the near term."

The President's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013 (October 1, 2012 - September 30, 2013) is expected to be released the first Monday in February under the terms of the Congressional Budget Act. This is the first step to kick off a long process to establish line item appropriations levels for every program, project and activity of the federal government.

(AAAS, APLU and the UWSA Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)