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FY 2012 Federal Budget Request

1 April 2011 1,918 views 2 Comments
This column highlights research activities that may be of interest to ASA members. These brief articles include information about new research solicitations and the federal budget for statistics. Comments or suggestions for future articles may be sent to ASA Research and Graduate Education Manager Keith Crank at keith@amstat.org.


Keith Crank has a BS in mathematics education and an MS in mathematics from Michigan State University and a PhD in statistics from Purdue University. Prior to joining the ASA as research and graduate education manager, he was a program officer at the National Science Foundation, primarily in the probability program.

President Obama submitted his fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget to Congress on February 14, outlining his priorities and beginning the public debate about how much money the government should spend and on what it should be spent.

When you read this, the FY 2012 budget should be the only one under consideration, though, as I write this, the FY 2011 budget has not been completed. The federal government is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) at the level of the FY 2010 appropriations. That CR is set to expire on March 4, at which time Congress will probably pass another two-week CR before completing the 2011 appropriations. This makes it impossible to identify the year-to-year change being requested.

Currently, there are (at least) three levels for FY 2011 that could be used for comparison: the FY 2011 request to Congress, the FY 2010 appropriations (the current CR level), and the current proposal being debated by the House of Representatives.

The total request for FY 2012 is $3.7 trillion, compared to an estimated $3.8 trillion for FY 2011. Of this $3.7 trillion, $0.5 trillion is nondefense, discretionary spending. The FY 2012 request for this category reflects essentially no change from FY 2011. (Defense-related discretionary spending is $0.7 trillion, which is a 5.0% decrease over the FY 2011 request.)

While these overall numbers may be of interest to a few of you, I would like to focus on the budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), its Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), since these are the places from which most of the federal money for academic statisticians and biostatisticians comes.

For NSF, the FY 2012 request is $7.8 billion, which is a 13% increase over the FY 2010 appropriations of $6.9 billion. When compared to the FY 2011 request of $7.4 billion, it represents a 4.6% increase, and when compared to the $6.6 billion currently being considered by the House, it represents an 18.3% increase. This increase is not spread evenly over the various directorates; the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS) would only see a 6.0% increase over the FY 2010 appropriations (a 1.6% increase over the FY 2011 request). This is also not spread evenly, and DMS would receive a 7.9% increase over FY 2010 (a 2.9% increase over the FY 2011 request).

DMS is continuing to scale back its educational activities. In FY 2011, DMS planned to reduce its education funding by about $2 million. For FY 2012, an additional $5.5 million will be moved to the research and related activities side of the budget. DMS will no longer provide funding for IGERT, interdisciplinary training for undergraduates in biological and mathematical sciences, or the graduate research fellowships. Overall, the budget for the core research activities in the division is expected to increase by more than $26.5 million, or about 12.4%, when compared to FY 2010.

Details about the budget request can be found at the NSF website.

As with NSF, the president’s budget includes an increase for NIH, albeit a more modest 2.4% increase over the FY 2010 appropriations (and a 1.0% decrease from the FY 2011 request). It’s impossible to tell how much is spent on statistics and biostatistics, but we’ve been making a strong effort to emphasize the importance of our discipline to the NIH research activities over the past 18 months. The budget request can be found at the NIH website.

It’s a long way from the president’s budget request to the congressional appropriations, and it will be many months before we see what happens this year. Hopefully, it will not take as long as the FY 2011 has taken, but with different parties controlling the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is difficult to predict.

To contact me, send an email to keith@amstat.org. Questions or comments about this article, as well as suggestions for future articles, are always welcome.

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2 Comments »

  • Thad Cummins said:

    Dr. Crank,

    Thank you for the excellent information and encouraging news about possible additional funding available for research in the United States.

    I would like to know if you have a sense of public policy preference changes at your level with respect to the use of statistics outside of health care, criminal enforcement and defense fields. Twenty years ago I was documenting evidence based prevention projects and found high conclusion voracity for youth counseling with respect to recidivision rates. One project showed for ever $1 spent counseling it saved $6 in incarceration costs (adolescent population). Later I coordinated 26 separate “urban greening” projects designed to reduce heat islands and save energy. These projects were funded by US HHS and US Agriculture respectively. (1990-1996)

    Maybe I was not influential do to an age variable, since I was born after 1964 and had very few age peers in management. Never the less I was categorically unsupported by almost all decision makers in government at the Municipal, State and Federal levels. I was even verbally attacked by a mayor of a town with 300k population for proposing counseling for youth in 1993. As much as I loved this work and studied to the point of taking PhD classwork in quasi-experimental design and social research with regression analysis I left for the computer field tired of jumping from grant to grant to eat.

    Do you see any efforts going into evidence based prevention of violence, education failure and life span factors for average Americans? There appears to be money for the top 5% (high IQ and connected baby boomers – this is were grant money goes) and the bottom 5% (criminally minded and those labeled as “criminals”). The statistics of positive human capital development have been in organizational psychology and sociology since the 1960s but America seems unable to make good use of what I see to be a forgotten gold mine of positive human capital programs based on statistical analysis.

    Is America’s aversion to helping neighbors with tax money so strong that long term economic benefits don’t matter? In your opinion, Dr. Crank, does this consistent oversight constitute a cultural predisposition of the US Baby boomer management class that is just a part of being an American and beyond rational statistical decision making?

    Thanks for any insight.

    Thad Cummins

  • Keith Crank said:

    Mr. Cummins,

    I cannot speak to many of your issues. I know that statisticians work in many different areas, not limited to the ones you mention. How much of the work is funded through government grants is not clear.

    While there are statisticians working on problems related to public policy, there is a need for more of them. There is also a need for more training in statistics across the population.

    At ASA we are working to increase the number of statisticians and the funding available to them. We are also working to get statistics taught to a larger number of students, beginning with the K-12 curriculum. This is difficult, since many of those who would be expected to teach the material do not have a sufficient understanding of it themselves.

    Keith Crank