By ASAS Public Policy Committee
January 28, 2016 – A December 2015 Taking Stock article reported on the funding levels for agricultural research in the 2016 Omnibus bill that was passed in December 2015. Agricultural research funding increased by almost 1% over 2015 levels with increases to USDA’s ARS, NIFA and AFRI programs. Other, non-agricultural science agencies also received increases in their FY 2016 budgets over 2015 spending. In some cases, increases were even large enough to increase science spending equivalent to 2012 levels and overcoming several years of budget cuts.
The budget for the National Institutes of Health is set at $32.1 billion, a 6.65% increase over 2015 funding. Francis S. Collins, Director of NIH called this NIH budget, “the most encouraging budget outcome in 12 years.” This includes a big boost for Alzheimer’s disease research (from $586 to $936 million) and an increase of $100 million to National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for antimicrobial resistance research.
The 2016 research budget for the National Science Foundation is set at $6.033 billion, a 1.67% increase over 2015. Language in the bill requires that NSF projects describe how they serve the national interest with periodic updates to the Congressional Appropriations committees on this issue. Also included in the NSF budget is $880 million for Education and Human Resources (EHR) activities, including $35 million for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program, $14 million for the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program, and $62.5 million for the Advanced Informal STEM Learning program. $200.3 million was allocated to the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Constructions account for NSF, just under the FY 15 appropriated level, but was at the requested level. Included with that is the requirement that NSF submit an independent assessment of a revised cost estimate to complete and maintain the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). One NSF program area that did not receive a funding increase was the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, which cannot surpass fiscal year 2015 funding levels.
The Combating Antibiotic Initiative, a national 5-year strategy started in 2015 to prevent, detect, and control illness and death related to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria saw funding increased to $774 million in 2016, which is almost a doubling of funding for this effort over 2015 levels. Funding for this initiative is spread across several government agencies. Included in the 2016 Omnibus bill is $8.7 million to the Food and Drug Administration to extend its oversight of antibiotic use in livestock and review of antibacterial drugs.