Federal budget agreement praised for its science funding

Washington D.C. capital building

University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Brian Herman is lauding an omnibus budget agreement headed to the president’s desk in Washington this week. The bill would provide a boost in the middle of the federal fiscal year to key science agencies that fund university research. Herman provided the Board of Regents with a State of University Research report last week that indicated that although University research funding is more diversified than ever, more than 60 percent of research awards to University of Minnesota faculty and staff still came from federal sources in the previous year.

“In recent years, we’ve seen inconsistent signals from Washington related to science,” said Herman, noting that overall federal research and development outlays in nondefense areas were down 1.5 percent over the past ten years, when adjusted for inflation. “It is exciting to see budgets increased for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), our two largest funders at the University of Minnesota. Federal investment has been at the heart of our nation’s leadership in health and technology innovation, and these are encouraging increases for science in what has been a very uncertain period for such investments.”

According to an analysis by the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, the omnibus budget agreement includes a $2 billion (6.6 percent) increase for NIH, a $119 million (1.6 percent) addition for NSF, as well as 5 percent-plus increases for USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (up $25 million, 7.7 percent) and Department of Energy-Science (up $283 million, 5.6 percent), two other key agencies for the University of Minnesota. Overall, the package provides an 8.1 percent increase for research and development across the federal government.