By Kasey White, GSA Director for Geoscience Policy and Ryan Haupt, GSA Science Policy Fellow

Although the FY2020 appropriations bills were signed into law three months into the fiscal year, the numbers were worth the wait for many science agencies.  Similar to previous years, large cuts to science funding proposed by the Administration did not come to fruition. Instead, Congress provided increases to geoscience research across agencies. GSA had advocated for these increases through testimony, visits, and coalition letters.
Seal of the United States Congress
Highlights include:

  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) budget rose nearly 10% to $1.27 billion, with increases spread across the agency. The bill contained language that Congress does not approve the proposed restructuring of mission areas proposed by the Administration.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) received a 2.5% increase to $8.3 billion. Research and Related Activities and Education and Human Resources both see a 3% increase.
  • NASA received $22.6 billion. NASA Science increased 3% to $7.1 billion, with Earth Science increasing marginally to $2 billion.  After multiple years of large increases, Planetary Science  would fall slightly to $2.7 billion. In contrast with the Administration’s request, the bill provides funding for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite, the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder instrument, and the Office of STEM Engagement, formerly known as the Office of Education.
  • The Department of Energy’s Office of Science will receive $7 billion, a 5% increase, continuing several years of increases. The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy – proposed for elimination in the request- received a 16% increase to $245 million. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget increased 20% to $2.85 billion.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a 2% raise bringing their budget to $9 billion. Though more modest a boost, the agency’s funding had been flat and has been at risk of being cut by the current administration.
  • NOAA’s budget was set at $3.76 billion for Operation, Research, and Facilities with the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR also known as NOAA Research) receiving $572.2 million, more than double the FY20 President Budget request and a slight increase from FY19 enacted.

Though the ink has barely dried on FY2020, the FY2021 process is well underway. The annual Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities memo was released in July, and the Administration’s request is expected to be released in early February 2020. The request will likely have several items of interest to the geological community, including the continuing role of critical minerals in regards to national security.