Looking Ahead to FY11 Science Budget Priorities

Oh joy … bureaucraspeak at its best on the FY11 budget priorities in science and technology from Peter Orzag (OMB) and John Holdren (Obama science adviser).

Let’s see … the Administration is already investing in:

“high-risk, high-payoff research; making permanent the Research and Enterprise tax credit; targeting investment in promising clean energy technologies research; improving health outcomes while lowering costs; and nurturing a scientifically literate population as well as a world-class, diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce.”

Phew. So what’s next?

In preparing FY2011 Budget submissions to the Office of Management and Budget, agencies should build on the science and technology priorities already reflected in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the FY2010 Budget.

Hmmmmmm. Further …

Agencies should explain in their budget submissions how they will redirect available resources, as appropriate, from lower-priority areas to science and technology activities that address four practical challenges and strengthen four cross-cutting areas that underlie success in addressing all of them.

So what would these four challenges be?

  • Applying science and technology strategies to drive economic recovery, job creation, and economic growth;
  • Promoting innovative energy technologies to reduce dependence on energy imports and mitigate the impact of climate-change while creating green jobs and new businesses;
  • Applying biomedical science and information technology to help Americans live longer, healthier lives while reducing health care costs; and
  • Assuring we have the technologies needed to protect our troops, citizens, and national interests, including those needed to verify arms control and nonproliferation agreements essential to our security.

And the strategies for addressing these challenges?:

  • Increasing the productivity of our research institutions, including our research universities and major public and private laboratories and research centers;
  • Strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at every level, from pre-college to postgraduate to lifelong learning;
  • Improving and protecting our information, communication, and transportation infrastructure, which is essential to our commerce, science, and security alike; and
  • Enhancing our capabilities in space, which are essential for communications, geopositioning, intelligence gathering, Earth observation, and national defense, as well as for increasing our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

My poverty-stricken friends at the Observatory should be happy at least. Would one of the approaches to increasing research productivity possibly involve more funding for research? Unclear, but the memo does urge Agencies to

“empower their scientists to have ongoing contact with people who know what’s involved in making and using things, from cost and competitive factors to the many practical constraints and opportunities that can arise when turning ideas into reality.”

I’m sure you’ll all appreciate this empowerment. But in the meantime, I suggest you get writing for the October-November cycle, including a missive to your Congressional delegation supporting a sustained increase in the NIH base appropriation.



  1. Well that certainly clarifies things! And thank motherfucking god they are sticking to their cross-cutting guns!

  2. D said

    Efficiency? Does that mean not leaving any lanes on your gel empty?

    My parents know how to make and use clarified butter. Does that count when I talk to them?

  3. I wrote my congressman (utter buffoon), both Senators (moderate and batshit crazy Republican and I can comment as a moderate conservative myself), and even the White House asking them to support the NIH budget increase.

    • writedit said

      Thanks. Every little bit helps, even if your congressional delegation is beyond help … never mind the authors of that memo.

  4. writedit said

    David Goldston comments on this memo in his Party of One column in Nature, reflecting the same opinion and concerns as well all do upon reading these budget priorities.

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