Exploring the FY09 Omnibus

February 26th, 2009

Posted by: admin

While it might be overshadowed by the Obama Administration’s proposed FY 2010 budget, the House recently passed an omnibus bill to cover the rest of the current fiscal year’s budget.  The funding for most agencies this year is set to end late next week under the terms of the current continuing resolution.  The American Institute of Physics has been releasing breakdowns of the omnibus for various science and technology agencies, you can read them online (start with number 19).  You may notice that the final FY 2009 numbers for some agencies, or some components of agencies, show a decline from the Bush Administration’s requested FY 2009 amounts.  While it would be easy to chalk this up to the ongoing epic fail of non-biomedical science advocates to successfully persuade appropriators for increases, there are points worth noting:

The continuing resolution was based on fiscal year 2008 levels.  Whenever a continuing resolution has been enacted to keep the government funded (and sadly, there’s plenty of examples from which to form patterns), the funding levels have either stayed with the previous fiscal year (wiping out any increases, and forestalling any cuts) or allowed for modest across the board increases or decreases.  For those agencies trying to plan on the basis of laws authorizing year to year funding increases, this is particularly frustrating.

The Stimulus.  While I can’t pinpoint explicit declarations to this, it seems unlikely that the final numbers for the FY 2009 Omnibus won’t be (or haven’t been) affected by funding appropriated in the stimulus legislation.  This is one of many reasons why I think a more comprehensive advocacy strategy might suit science funding advocates better – no one budget is really handled in isolation, yet many of the appeals I see appear to act that way.

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