Congress is moving on 2012 appropriations, and the Science agency “minibus” bill has reported out of conference…
So, fiscal 2012 started last month, and funding is currently under a short term “continuing resolution” through friday.
Three of the appropriation bills the House and Senate had worked on were combined into a “minibus” bill (as opposed to an omnibus bill of all appropriations), and the differences between the Senate and House versions were hammered out in conference over the last week.
Yesterday the conference report came out, and supposedly will be voted on thursday.
The bill is now H.R. 2112 formerly Agriculture appropriations.
Science is now stuck onto the end of that bill with many other agencies.
1) Word on the social networks is that the vote on the conference bill will be straight up-down, no amendments permitted.
That is very important, as it precludes maverick congress critters from doing line item deletions or major shifts in funding of single items or agencies on whim.
This means the current version of the bill has a good chance of passing as is.
2) There is some additional funding for science.
The conference reports are terse and opaque to the average non lawyer.
thomas.loc.gov should have full final text by next week.
However, the good news seems to be that while NASA overall takes a significant cut, Science within NASA gets a little bit of extra money.
JWST is IN the current version: and is allegedly fully funded for 2012 at $529 million, as I heard it.
BUT, there is language in the bill capping total cost to $8 billion, going above that triggers a Congressional review – that is less than NASA says it needs, but I think it is enough to take the project into Mission Operations… ie through launch, if I did me ‘rithmetic rite…
But, the extra science money is not enough to cover this cost, sounds like, as promised, $100 million extra was scrounged up for JWST, and the rest has to come out of existing programs.
Supposedly, Planetary Science is protected and may have extra money.
May I petulantly note that the last estimated budget for all of Exoplanets was $46 million.
This will be interesting, both whether JWST can now be brought in on the new revised budget, and what takes the hit – MODA? New programs?
In other news, NSF gets a little bit extra also – maybe enough that AST will not have to take a big cut.
BUT – Major Research Facilities is funded at a very low level.
There is enough, as I understand, for Advanced LIGO and Advanced Solar Telescope, but not enough to start LSST on schedule.
This could be a power play to force funding for the TMT to move up in the pipeline.
No idea what happens to the Ecology and Ocean MRFs.
Other implications are that Major Research Instrumentation will take a big hit for now,
maybe zeroed for 2012; and, any hope to do midsize instrumentation for national facilities is out.
As before, operation costs of the new big observatories is squeezing everything.
For those of us who just got NSF proposals in – word I heard is that success rate for this year, given funding and expected proposal pressure, will be 10-12%.
I think 8% is where the famous EU study concluded more net time is spent on proposal preparation than doing the resultant funded research, across a community…
Haven’t had time or energy to look at NIST or NOAA or DoE or any other scienty agencies.