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Budgets See Cuts, Flat Funding for Research, Federal Statistical Agencies

1 July 2024 No Comment
Steve Pierson, ASA Director of Science Policy

    Finalized in March, the federal government fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget generally delivered cuts for research funding agencies and statistical agencies (Table 1.). President Joe Biden’s FY25 budget request was also more modest than past years, largely requesting flat funding.
     

    Final FY24 Budget

    The federal budget agreement made between the White House and US House of Representatives resulted in decreases for four research funding agencies the ASA tracks most closely and for a number of federal statistical agencies.

    The National Science Foundation was the most affected, with an 8% cut, though that is above its FY23 level. The National Institutes of Health saw a more modest cut of 0.8%.

    While the National Institute of Justice budget was reduced to its FY22 level, Congress also reduced the fraction of the budget the NIJ targets for specific topics or projects. As a result, the amount of funding over which NIJ has discretion increased over the FY23 amount.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology also received an 8% cut, leading it to terminate its contract for the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence early.

    For the federal statistical agencies, the following five saw their funding remain at their FY23 levels:

    • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Energy Information Administration
    • National Center for Education Statistics
    • National Center for Health Statistics
    • Social Security Administration’s Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics

    Several agencies saw cuts of up to several percentage points, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis at -4%, US Census Bureau at -7%, Economic Research Service at -2%, and National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at -3%.

    The 11% decrease for the National Agricultural Statistics Service is largely due to the FY23 budget having additional funds for the execution of the quinquennial Census of Agriculture.

    The 12% increase for the Statistics of Income is largely due to funds provided to the Internal Revenue Service through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

    The marginal increase for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics was determined through the authorization process in 2022.

    The flat funding for most statistical agencies amounts to a loss of purchasing power, an ongoing challenge that has hampered most agencies for the past dozen years. As a result, several agencies have announced cuts such as the following:

    • The National Agricultural Statistics Service is cutting the July Cattle Inventory Report, Cotton Objective Yield Survey, and County Estimates for Crops and Livestock.
    • In March 2024, the National Center for Education Statistics announced the planned elimination of the Academic Libraries survey beginning with the 2025–2026 cycle.
    • In May, the Bureau of Economic Analysis suspended its Near Real-Time Spending reports, which were based on card transaction data.
    • In July of last year, the Energy Information Administration announced it would not publish its congressionally mandated Annual Energy Outlook in 2024.

    In addition to the appropriated amount shown in Table 1, the Bureau of Justice Statistics receives a small percentage of US Department of Justice grants assistance programs, referred to as a set-aside. It averaged approximately $24 million in recent years and substantially buttressed the bureau’s programs. See Figure 1 for the bureau’s funding back to FY03, including the set-aside that started in FY12. This amount does not include Bureau of Justice Statistics staffing, which is provided through a Department of Justice–wide account.

    For FY24, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ combined funding is approximately $59 million, which marks a 31% decrease in purchasing power since FY18. For perspective, the bureau’s flagship survey—the National Crime Victimization Survey—has an approximate annual cost of $62 million, which means the bureau must rely on support from other Department of Justice offices, including the Office for Victims of Crime. It also means the bureau must sparingly execute many of its roughly 50 active surveys that aren’t annual. The surveys most likely to be delayed cover the phase of the criminal justice process following arrest through conviction and sentencing.

    Figure 1: BJS’s budget in nominal and real terms for FY03–FY24. In FY12, additional funding was provided through set-aside funding. The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ gross domestic product deflator was used to account for inflation.

    President’s FY25 Request

    The president’s FY25 budget request for the four research funding agencies in Table 1 reflects the agencies’ budgets having been cut in FY24. His budget numbers were released at around the same time as the FY24 budgets were finalized, so did not take final FY24 levels into account. However, the FY25 requested levels do consider that FY25 will be a tight year, with flat funding relative to FY24 considered a high-water mark.

    The House’s work to mark up its FY25 appropriations bills began in June. To follow the FY25 budget developments, see “FY25 NIH, NSF, and AHRQ Budget Developments” and “FY25 Statistical Agency Budget Developments”

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