Minibus makes science cuts; NSTIC survives

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A multi-agency funding bill signed into law Nov. 18 by President Obama will make cuts to science and research programs relative to the budget request made earlier this year, but only a few agencies will receive absolutely less money than they did last fiscal year.

The bill, dubbed the "minibus," funds a number of agencies for fiscal 2012, which started Oct. 1 (the government has been operating on a continuing resolution that extended last year's amounts on a temporary basis; the rest of government not covered by the minibus remains on a continuing resolution that expires midnight of Dec. 16).

One of the unlucky agencies is NASA, which received $17.8 billion, less than the $18.45 billion it received for the last fiscal year.

Also luckless is the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the executive office of the president. OSTP received $4.5 million, substantially less than the $6.65 million it had requested and the nearly $6.65 million it received in fiscal 2011. The cut, a spokesman for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) told The National Journal, was made following apparent OSTP defiance against a congressional prohibition on OSTP staff meeting with Chinese officials to conduct bilateral policy. The White House had maintained that Congress may not use appropriations power to infringe on the president's constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology with its $750.82 million budget, just barely escaped not having an absolute loss since it's amount is $727,000 more than it received last year.

The NIST-run National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, known as NSTIC, in the end received $16.5 million, putting off the earlier possibility of its demise. The final amount is significantly less than the $24.5 million NIST had requested, however.

For more:  
- go to the "minibus" conference report

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