The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request came out this week and overall it is quite positive for the major ocean sciences agencies. From the tables in the policy section, you can see that NSF, NASA, and NOAA have some very nice increases in their budgets especially when you consider the difficult fiscal and political situation the country faces. Navy basic research is down considerably, but Congress is usually supportive of Defense Department (DOD) research and has added to their budget lines in the past.
However, the President’s budget assumes that a resolution will occur for the budget sequester that has been in place for the last few years. Given that we now have a Republican Senate, there is little reason to believe that there will be a clear resolution. So, it is not obvious what kind of deal the President and the Congress will make. For research, the key is the discretionary portion of the budget that includes a Defense part and non-Defense part. Since most scientific research resides in the non-Defense part, how the President and the Congress deal with this part will strongly affect the final research budget numbers. The Republicans have always been very supportive of the Defense budget, on the other hand, they have historically been supportive of basic research.
So, where does this leave us? It means that if you want to see the increases in the research agency budgets noted above in the President’s budget, you have to get into the game and let your Senators and Representatives know how you feel. Every other part of the budget will have its supporters, so our research community had better get involved. Given the sequester issue and support for DOD, some groups are going to lose out. We are certainly going to do our part here at Ocean Leadership, but you all in the community have to do your part. Contact your representatives and let them know how your research and the research at your institution helps set the foundation for a prosperous society for the future of our country. Show them the passion you have for your research by inviting them to your institutions. There is nothing like a hands-on visit. I have said this in the past many times in this column, but this year it is really critical. If you want budget increases, you have to work for it.
It is really cold here now in DC, much like most of the country. So instead of going for a leisurely walk this weekend, I suggest a brisk run!