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Statistical Agencies’ FY11 Budgets Cut

1 June 2011 2,144 views One Comment

Proposed initiatives left unfunded

Steve Pierson, ASA Director of Science Policy

    The Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Census Bureau, and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) all saw their budgets cut in the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) budget deal signed by President Obama on April 15 to determine the federal budget through September 30. While the FY11 budgets for some statistical agencies weren’t available by press time, most saw 0.2% across-the-board cut from their FY10 levels.

    EIA’s cut was the most severe at 14%—relative to its FY10 budget—to an FY11 level of $95.4 million. In an April 28 press release, EIA Administrator Richard Newell stated, “The lower FY 2011 funding level will require significant cuts in EIA’s data, analysis, and forecasting activities.” The press release lists 18 specific impacts and indicates other project curtailments are possible. The impacts range from not publishing certain data releases, analyses, and reports to halting some data collection and suspending projection model upgrades.

    The Census Bureau budget was cut by at least $93 million below its FY11 request of $1.267 billion, but the impacts of these cuts weren’t available as this issue went to press. (Comparison with its FY10 budget isn’t meaningful because of the large costs in that fiscal year for executing the 2010 decennial census.)

    The NASS FY11 budget was cut by 3% to $157 million, resulting in the suspension of the quarterly Farm Labor Survey. Other impacts are likely, but have not yet been disclosed.

    The disappointment of the budget cuts or freezes for the statistical agencies is amplified by the fact that many were in line to have their budgets increased for FY11. In early 2010, Obama proposed increasing the budgets of many of the statistical agencies, some up to 17% over the FY10 level. Congress approved parts of the increases for many agencies in their 2010 deliberations, but that support effectively expired when the new Congress took over the FY11 budget deliberations in January.

    With the administration generally requesting the same increases for FY12, the deliberations for FY12 will be another chance to voice support for the budget increases for many statistical agencies.

    For more information or subsequent updates, go to the blog post “FY11 Budget Deal: Impacts on Science and Statistical Agency Budgets” in the ASA Community.

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    One Comment »

    • John Gardenier said:

      Steve, while we all feel that more and better national statistics are needed, not less, all I see is “woe is me” type comments from groups I identify with: military retirees, seniors, scientists, and statisticians.

      What I do not see from any of those groups — or from politicians either — is frank and serious recognition of the deep economic problems facing the country. It seems that all US citizens are saying in effect. “Yes, slash the budgets affecting the other guys but leave mine alone. In fact, mine need and deserve increases.”

      Regardless of how we allocate blame for the current mess, the mess is massive and drastic. It will not be solved without dramatic tax increases and dramatic cuts in spending across both defense and civilian agencies. Economists do not seem to be laying out the facts publicly. Is there not a morally compelling role for statisticians to document the magnitude of the problem and analyze the true dimensions of required solutions? Great application for bounded simulations, right? (None of this suggests advocating any specific policies.)

      John Gardenier