Sequestration Revelations

Sequestration begins on Friday, and this time for real… it is, ironically, Hubble Space Telescope Proposal Deadline Day, but then everyday is a Proposal Day.
I’m guessing that this year the “Hubble Constant” will decrease.

The Agencies are now revealing their plans to deal with sequester.

As you recall the amount is $83 billion from the current fiscal year’s budget.
We are almost half way through the current fiscal year.
There is not actually a budget yet for the current fiscal year, the US is operating on a Continuing Resolution through to late March, and if a budget is actually approved, which is iffy, the numbers may change, up or down.

Net is that the Agencies, along with the rest of the non-discretionary civilian spending side of things, have to find about 5% in cuts.
Sounds not so bad.
But, we’re half way through the year, a lot of money is already spent or obligated, so the cuts have to come out of the rest.
The marginal cuts will be larger than one might think from naive extrapolation.

The NSF has announced its plans – it is going to sustain current grants and cut new grants – their letter says to plan on 1,000 fewer research grants awarded this year. They normally award about 10,000 per year, so this is a 10% cut in new awards.
That actually sounds too small, so there maybe more coming.

The sordid details...

The sordid details…

NIH is apparently taking their cuts out of existing grants, if I am parsing the journalese correctly, they will be smaller for the next round of distribution – effectively rescissing grants in progress – nasty.
They will also be making fewer new grants. Which fits.

NASA: well, NASA is not furloughing employees!.
Fair enough.
So, the Centers will be largely protected, at least for civil service staff.
That means the cuts have to come from Contracts: that’d be Center contractors, and, University research grants.
We’ll now soon how bad it will hit and how much will be taken from current vs future funding.

Either way, if this goes through, there will be a few thousand fewer people doing research in the US by summer.

Comments

  1. #1 bph
    United States
    February 28, 2013

    I have hear a PDF file that was prepared by NASA at the request of Sen. Milkulski.

    For Science, compete R and A will be cut by 2% (resulting in a 5% cut in new awards.) The big cuts will be in mission stuff, 10 to 15% (how that is not set is not clear) for Venture and Explorer stuff.

    Other groups are hit much harder (technology loses ~$150m out of $700m! and a bunch of construction is cut.)

  2. #2 Marshall
    February 28, 2013

    NASA science is actually relatively little affected by the sequester, compared to other agencies. The reason is, the sequester cut levels are all specified with respect to the FY12 budget. But in the latest President’s Budget Request for FY13, NASA science already took a significant hit in the form of the reduction to planetary sciences. That already went a long way towards the sequester levels.

    So, this is kind of a glass half full/half empty situation. The sky is not falling on NASA science now, because a big chunk of it went crashing down already a year ago?

  3. #3 Steinn Sigurðsson
    February 28, 2013

    Well, if Congress ever enacts a real budget and the CR is superceded, this could whiplash NASA really badly late in the fiscal year.
    I presume NASA also got OMB approval to ignore the law’s requirement for a flat cut, since they are protecting the centers and cutting tech and construction.
    Big question for us has to be whether the JWST line took a proportionate cut.
    I also wonder what the mission effect is – delay in TESS/FINESSE selection? Or is something being shut down?

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