In a directive made public last week, Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, instructed federal agencies to tailor their budget requests for FY 2013 to “be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.” For the National Institutes of Health (currently funded at $30.7 billion), this cut would be approximately $1.5 billion, reducing the agency’s budget to FY08 levels. The National Science Foundation would be forced to make due with a $6.5 billion appropriation, approximating its FY09 budget.
Lew also asked agencies to prepare for a worst-case scenario by “identify[ing] additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.” However, Lew was adamant that achieving this level of cuts “should not be achieved by proposing across-the-board reductions or reductions to mandatory spending in appropriations bills, reclassifications of existing discretionary spending to mandatory, or enactment of new user fees to offset existing spending.” He also insisted that agencies “identify programs to “double down” on because they provide the best opportunity to enhance economic growth.”
Given these likely reductions in budgets, it is imperative that agencies efficiently allocate their limited resources. ASBMB is working with both agencies and our advocacy coalition partners to ensure that funding for the most effective programs is maintained.