During the holiday hoopla here in the States, an exciting outcome came from Congress. The National Science Foundation, NASA, and other government research budgets were mostly unscathed. Many of us in academia grabbed an extra libation to celebrate once President Obama signed off on the bill.
Agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) all received small increases. Despite NASA’s budget being cut severely resulting from the discontinuance of the space shuttle program, many of its other initiatives are being properly funded with this bill including the James Webb Space Telescope.
The NSF budget saw an unexpected increase of $200 million dollars bringing the total to slightly over $7 billion. The agency will still have to be cautious, but expects to be able to fund many of its existing research commitments. Also, they do not expect to significantly alter the grant acceptance rate.
While this outcome is an unanticipated, small victory for research science in the US. We must remain cautious about the future, especially due to the upcoming election year.
Also, let me ask the Skepchick science community: How is the research funding situation in other countries? Have you seen drawbacks or increases?
Nature 479, 455–456 (24 November 2011)