Biden’s Budget Release – Federal Funding Implications for Social, Behavioral, and Brain Sciences

On Friday, May 28th, President Biden released his long-awaited fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request to Congress, expanding on and adding details to an outline released in early April. The budget reflects the administration’s commitment to increase federal investment in research and development across agencies.  

Members of Congress are fond of reminding the public of their ‘power of the purse.’ Nonetheless, the President’s budget request is an important marker of the Administration’s priorities and a starting point for negotiations between the House, Senate, and White House. Among those funding agencies responsible for a large portion of FABBS members’ research, this budget proposes significant funding increases, along with meaningful policy changes. 


The request calls for a budget of $10.2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 20 percent increase over 2021. This includes over $300 million for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) and $1.2 billion for the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR), which funds the majority of the Foundation’s investment in social and behavioral research.  

National Science Foundation

Fiscal Year 2020  Enacted Fiscal Year 2021  Enacted Fiscal Year 2022  President’s
Budget Request 
Percent Increase FABBS and Community Request
Agency Total $ 8,354.33$ 8,486.76$ 10,169.30  20% $10,000
SBE  $ 280.35$282.06 (estimate)$ 319.6613%
EHR $ 942.55 $968$ 1,287.27  33%
*in millions 

In addition, the budget request calls for the creation of the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships, focusing on translational research and technology development, which would receive $865 billion in FY22. It also earmarks $1.2 billion across research directorates to fund studies related to climate change. President Biden calls for $100 million, roughly a 50 percent increase, to programs aimed at broadening participation in science and engineering. On top of that, he includes a 20 percent increase, or $40 million, in funding for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to expand the geographic reach of NSF investments.  


President Biden is seeking a 21 percent increase to the NIH budget, bringing total funding to $52 billion, in line with the health research community request. Much of this increase, however, is allocated to the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. ARPA-H would receive $6.5 billion to “drive transformational innovation in health research and speed application and implementation of health breakthroughs.” This is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a similar program at the Department of Energy (ARPA-E), which allow program managers to direct funding decisions and support use-inspired research, directed at societal challenges, that is not pursued by private industry due to the uncertainty of rapid return on investment.   

National Institutes of Health

  Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted Fiscal Year 2021 Enacted Fiscal Year 2022 President’s
Budget Request 
Percent Increase Fabbs and Community Request
Agency Total  $41,685.00  $42,935.50   $51,952.70  21% $46,111
NIMH  $2,042.97   $2,105.90   $2,213.57  5% 
NICHD  $1,797.78   $1,837.97   $1,942.12  6% 
NIA  $3,545.87   $3,899.93   $4,035.59  3% 
NEI  $823.33   $835.52   $858.54  3% 
OBSSR  $28.93   $29.83   $30.30  2% 
ARPA-H   –  – $6,500.00    –
*in millions

Key institutes funding behavioral and brain science would receive funding increases between 2 and 6 percent. The Office for Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR), within the Office of the Director, would receive only a 2 percent increase.  


The President’s FY22 budget request recommends significant investments in the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), calling for a $95 million, or 15 percent, increase in the agency’s budget. While most of this increase supports research funding, it also provides for an additional seven full-time staff at the agency. IES leadership has expressed that existing staff is unable to take on additional responsibilities, and the budget notes that program officers were responsible for monitoring 51 grants on average, while the goal is 40. The agency depends heavily on contractors to carry out much of its work; however, at a recent event hosted by the National Academies, IES leadership claimed that they do not even have sufficient manpower to vet and hire needed contractors. Providing additional staff is a key tool in allowing the agency to maximize increased investments in research funding. 

Institute of Education Sciences

  Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted Fiscal Year 2021 Enacted Fiscal Year 2022 President’s
Budget Request 
Percent Increase FABBS and Community Request
Agency Total  $623.5   $642.5   $737.5  15% $700
* in millions 

Next Steps 

The President’s budget suggests strong federal funding for the key federal agencies funding behavioral and brain science. There is also substantial bipartisan interest in renewing federal investment in research and development. NSF, in particular, is seeing robust support on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are considering proposals to set the agency on a course for substantial funding increases in coming years.  

As legislators work to negotiate federal appropriations over the coming months, FABBS and the advocacy community will continue to bring attention to value of investing in science and work to ensure that legislators ultimately include research funding increases in FY22 federal spending plans.  

IES, NIH, NIMH, NSF, NSF for the Future, White House