March 11, 2022
Congress passed, and the President signed, omnibus appropriations legislation to fund the government in fiscal year (FY) 2022. This comes after months of negotiations and multiple continuing resolutions (CRs) that held off a government shutdown since September 30th, when FY21 funding expired. The President’s Budget Request for FY 2023 is expected March 28th, and Congress will soon begin work on funding legislation for the year.
Institute of Education Sciences
The legislation nearly matched the President’s Budget request for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), exceeding the Friends of IES request. This includes $67.1 million for program administration (i.e. staffing) which was previously provided for by the broader Department of Education administration budget. For comparability, the “programs” funding level for in IES in FY 22 is $670 million — a 4.3% increase over FY 21. This is an important shift; IES leadership has emphasized that additional staffing is necessary to maximize new research investments, and this should give the agency additional resources and flexibility to meet staffing needs.
The bill also included important report language related to the National Board of Education Sciences (NBES). Report language accompanies appropriations legislation, providing an added layer of detail about lawmakers’ intentions and highlighting their priorities. NBES has not met since 2016 because presidentially appointed positions on the Board have sat vacant, denying the body a quorum:
“The agreement notes that NBES has been without members for an extended timeframe; as a consequence, NBES has been unable to fulfill key statutory duties such as providing recommendations to the Director of IES on strengthening education research, relevance and use, and regularly evaluating the work of the Institute. The agreement requests the Department provide information in future Congressional Justifications regarding its plans for NBES.”
National Institutes of Health and ARPA-H
The bill also provides a large increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with funding increases across every Institute. Importantly, Congress included report language supporting a $9 million funding increase for the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). FABBS worked with partners in the research community to request at least $46.4 billion for NIH in fiscal year 2022.
Congress also included $1 billion to establish the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The bill funds ARPA-H as an independent agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but gives the HHS Secretary the authority to move it within the NIH if he chooses. The placement of the agency has been a topic of significant debate in Congress.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation received a relatively small increase, especially given recent Congressional enthusiasm for the agency. Congress is still working to finalize NSF reauthorization legislation, as called for by President Biden in his State of the Union Address. One significant component of the effort to reauthorize the foundation is the creation of a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships, which the appropriations legislation specifically supports:
“The agreement supports the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) within R&RA that builds upon and consolidates existing NSF programs. TIP serves as a cross-cutting platform to advance science and engineering research leading to breakthrough technologies, to find solutions to national and societal challenges, to strengthen U.S. global competitiveness, and to provide training opportunities for the development of a diverse STEM workforce. NSF is encouraged to remember when funding projects within TIP that good ideas and high-quality research are not bound to certain geographical areas but exist across the country.”