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The Federal Budget Request for FY 2011

1 March 2010 No Comment
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.

On January 27, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address. In it, he said he would not increase discretionary spending (except for national security activities), beginning with the 2011 budget. On February 1, he submitted his fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget to Congress. How well does the budget request match his address? And what does it mean for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), as both agencies fall into the nonsecurity, discretionary spending category?

The total request is $3.8 trillion, compared to an estimated $3.7 trillion for FY 2010. Of this, only $0.5 trillion is nonsecurity, discretionary spending. The FY 2011 request for this category reflects a 6% decrease from FY 2010. (Security-related discretionary spending is $0.9 trillion, which is a 5% increase over FY 2010.)
For NSF, the FY 2011 request is $7.4 billion, which is an 8% increase over the FY 2010 appropriation of $6.9 billion. This increase is not spread evenly over the various directorates at NSF, and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS) will see only a 4.3% increase. This, of course, also is not spread evenly, and the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) will receive a 5% increase under the president’s budget request.

DMS also is dropping some of its educational activities. Programs that will be discontinued include VIGRE, SCREMS, IGMS, and CSUMS. While some of the funds used for these programs will be used for other educational activities, the education budget for the division is expected to decrease by about $2 million. Overall, the budget for the core research activities in the division is expected to increase by more than $13.5 million, or about 6.6%.

The Measurement, Methodology, and Statistics Program (MMS) within the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) also provides funding for statisticians. Although SBE will receive a 5.3% increase under the president’s budget, the research divisions within SBE will see only a 3% increase in the research portion of their budgets.

Budget Requests

    Details about the budgets can be found at NSF and NIH

    As with NSF, the president’s budget includes an increase for NIH. However, the increase is a more modest 3.2% increase over FY 2010. It’s impossible to tell how much is spent on statistics and biostatistics, but over the past few months, the ASA has made a strong effort to emphasize the importance of our discipline to the NIH research activities.

    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. In a time when everyone is talking about “fiscal responsibility,” it may appear the 8% increase for NSF is unlikely. But, the report accompanying the 2010 appropriations strongly encouraged the president to keep NSF on its doubling path, so there is reason to be optimistic.

    To contact me, send an email to keith@amstat.org. Questions and comments are always welcome.

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