Ocean Sciences Win In Omnibus

2018-03-26T14:38:07+00:00 March 26, 2018|

What It Was

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 omnibus appropriations bill passed on Friday. As expected (thanks to the February budget agreement’s increase to budget caps), many funding levels for science; technology; and ocean agencies, programs, projects, offices, and initiatives saw increases over the previous FY 2018 congressional proposals and the FY 2018 president’s budget request.

Why It Matters

Last week, Congress reached agreement on FY 2018 appropriations, and the president signed the bill into law. Since the February budget agreement raised spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, appropriators were faced with renegotiating much of their previous work. The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act improved the funding situation for nearly all federal science and research agencies. Instead of reducing NSF 11 percent as proposed by the administration, the omnibus provides an increase of almost $300 million or about 4 percent over the FY 2017 level. NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research is up about 7 percent instead of declining by over 30 percent; EPA science and technology is level funded instead of being reduced by nearly 45 percent; and the USGS is up just over 5 percent instead of absorbing a 15 percent reduction in its research and development programs.

 Key Points

The ocean science and technology community saw many wins in the omnibus, including increases to key science agencies and programs:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF; $295 million over FY 2017)
    • Construction, acquisition, and operational support of three regional class research vessels
    • Committee support for NSF’s marine seismology vessels and the academic community’s continued access to them
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; $234 million above FY 2017)
    • National Sea Grant College Program
    • Aquaculture research
    • NOAA’s Office of Education
    • Support for implementation of the seafood monitoring program (which would help prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing)
    • Establishment of the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science ($457 million above FY 2017)
    • Increased funding for the Science Mission Directorate
  • Department of Defense (DOD) basic and applied research and technology development ($16 billion above FY 2017; Navy – $800 million above FY 2017)
    • Service life extension program of the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR)-23 class, which adds 10-15 years to the vessels and ensures the availability of unique platforms capable of performing multidisciplinary, high-endurance missions that support Navy information needs around the globe
    • Unmanned underwater vehicle research

 National Science Foundation (NSF)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $7.8 billion, $295 million or 4% over the FY 2017 appropriated amount.

  • NSF Research and Related Activities – the bill provides $6.3 billion (5% increase from the FY 2017 level of $6 billion)
    • The bill’s accompanying explanatory statement includes the following language with respect to marine seismology, “The agreement reiterates the importance of ensuring that NSF-funded marine research vessels with unique seismic capabilities remain available to the academic marine geology and geophysics community to support a variety of important undersea research efforts.”
    • Funding is provided for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] programs
    • $171 million is provided for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) ($11 million above the FY2017 enacted level and $71 million above the request)
  • NSF Education and Human Resources – the bill provides $902 million (2.5% increase over FY17)
  • NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction – the bill provides $182.8 million (13% decrease from the FY 2017 level, equal to the request and the Senate’s recommendation)
    • $105 million is provided for the continued design and construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRVs)
  • The bill’s accompanying explanatory statement includes language reiterating support for existing NSF research infrastructure, including land and sea-based assets.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $20.7 billion, $1.1 billion above the FY 2017 enacted level and $1.6 billion above the budget request

  • NASA Science Mission Directorate – the bill provides $6.2 billion ($457 million above the FY 2017 enacted level and $510 million above the request)
    • Congress rejects the administration’s cancellation of scientific priorities recommended by the recent decadal survey from the National Academy of Sciences
  • NASA Education – the bill provides $100 million (program termination proposed budget request)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $5.9 billion, $234 million above the FY 2017 enacted level

NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research – the bill provides $508 million (7% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of a 30% cut as proposed by the administration)

  • Climate research is funded at a total of $158 million (level with FY 2017 instead of the administration’s $30 million proposed cut)
  • Weather research is funded at a total of $132 million (16% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • Ocean, coastal and Great Lakes research is funded at a total of $206 million (7% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
    • Sea Grant (including marine aquaculture) (6% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of program termination proposed by the administration)
    • ocean acidification (5% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
    • ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes cooperative institutes and laboratories (13% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)

NOAA National Ocean Service – the bill provides $561 million (8% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of a 26% cut as proposed by the administration)

  • The bill provides $30 million to meet the goals of the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants program authorized in P.L. 114-113 through the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund (NOCSF).
    • NOCSF is from Senator Whitehouse and establishes trust fund program for coastal resiliency
    • NOCSF will be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
    • NOCSF will be in lieu of regional coastal resilience grants
  • The bill also provides additional funding for NOAA to address Harmful Algal Blooms (HABS) and funding for external geospatial modeling grants.

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service – the bill provides $883 million (4% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of a 4% cut as proposed by the administration)

  • The omnibus provides an additional $1.2 million for NOAA Fisheries for the IUU program. The additional funding for IUU is to be used to implement the seafood import monitoring program and the establishment of a seafood traceability program.

NOAA National Weather Service – the bill provides $1 billion (4% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of a 5% cut as proposed by the administration)

NOAA Education – the bill provides $28 million (4% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of program termination as proposed by the administration)

  • BWET Regional programs are funded at a total of $8 million
  • Education Partnership Program/Minority Serving Institutions is funded at a total of $16 million
  • Education Program Base is funded at a total of $5 million

Department of Defense (DOD) (research, development, test and evaluation)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $88 billion, $16 billion above the FY 2017 enacted level

  • DOD Basic Research (6.1) has a 3% over FY 2017 enacted level
  • DOD Applied Research (6.2) has a 7.3% over FY 2017 enacted level
  • DOD Advanced Technology Development (6.3) has a 6.2% over FY 2017 enacted level
  • DARPA has an 8% over FY 2017 enacted level

Navy RDT&E – the bill provides $18 billion (5% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level

  • Navy Basic Research (6.1) is funded at a total of $622 billion (10% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • Navy Applied Research (6.2) is funded at a total of $994 billion (1% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • Navy Applied Research (6.2) is funded at a total of $817 billion (1% decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • includes service life extension program of the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR)-23 class, which adds 10-15 years to the vessels and ensures the availability of unique platforms capable of performing multidisciplinary, high-endurance missions that support Navy information needs around the globe
  • funding supports for operational meteorology and oceanography is funded at $380.6 million which is $10 million more than the request.
  • funding supports unmanned systems in the maritime environment and hydrographic survey launches

Department of Energy (DOE)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $6.3 billion, $5 billion above the FY 2017 enacted level

  • DOE Office of Science – the bill provides $6 million (16% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
    • ARPA-E is funded at a total of $353.3 million (15% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of program termination as proposed by the administration)

 Department of the Interior (DOI)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $13 billion, $863 million above the FY 2017 enacted level

  • DOI Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – the bill provides $114 million (53% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • DOI Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – the bill provides $123 million (48% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • DOI United States Fish and Wildlife Service – the bill provides $1.6 billion (5% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
  • DOI United States Geological Survey – the bill provides $1.1billion (6% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act provides a total of $8 billion, level funded with FY 2017 enacted level

  • EPA Science and Technology – the bill provides $706 million (53% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level instead of a 45% cut as proposed by the administration)
    • Science to Achiever Results (STAR) program is maintained at its current level rather than terminated as proposed by the Administration
    • Geographic Programs
      • Great Lakes Restoration is funded at a total of $300 million (level with FY 2017 enacted level)
      • Chesapeake Bay is funded at a total of $73 million (level with FY 2017 enacted level)
      • Gulf of Mexico is funded at a total of $12.5 million (47% increase above the FY 2017 enacted level)
    • National Estuary Program is funded at a total of $26.7 million