With no agreement on averting sequestration, President Obama issued the order on Friday to cut 5 percent from all discretionary spending budgets. The information on how these cuts will be implemented is still coming in. The National Science Foundation has stated that it will reduce new grants to continue funding grants already awarded. The National Institutes of Health issued a notice saying it they will reduce the amount paid to noncompeting awards, cut back on new awards, do both, or do neither. Not entirely helpful, but we can hope that this signals the NIH’s intent to be communicative about the implementation of sequestration.
Can a political deal be struck that would alleviate the effects of the sequester? Maybe, but Congress seems to have moved on from sequester to its proposals on the fiscal 2013 budget. A plan has been introduced in the U.S. House that would restore some funds to the Department of Defense without raising overall spending levels. Congress would have to cut the nondefense side of the ledger to do this, which does not bode well for research funding agencies. Not surprisingly, House Democrats oppose this plan. The Senate also has begun deliberations on the FY13 and FY14 budgets, but these plans have not been released. The only thing we can say for certain is that sequestration is here and cuts will go into effect.
Last week, ASBMB reached out to its members to call for stories about how sequestration will affect their science. Many are concerned about reduced paylines which could have a domino effect of job losses, project terminations, shuttered labs, and a brain drain as scientists move abroad in search of a better funding environment. Do you have a story or concern about scientific research and careers? Let us know in the comments below or email ASBMB Director of Public Affairs Ben Corb with your story.