From the President’s Office – 4/20/2012
This was a really busy week in Washington with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees unveiling their 2013 fiscal year spending bills. While the overall bills allocate less than the President requested, each chamber was able to provide for an increase in funding for NSF (details below). However, things are different at NOAA. The looming ocean science funding crunch has been building at NOAA, where over the past eight years the Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research spending has remained flat and the National Ocean Service allocations have been cut by 15 percent (without adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service budget has increased by 122 percent from $900 million to over $2 billion. Given anticipated spending increases for satellites (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) and overall reduced federal budgets, along with the specter of an 8 percent budget sequester in January, the status quo translates into a more rapid erosion of science and education programs at NOAA. This is precisely why I recommended considering moving NOAA satellites to NASA in my House Appropriations Subcommittee testimony last month. Others have also suggested this recommendation and the Senate proposed to do just that in its funding bill this year. I want to commend Chairwoman Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Hutchinson (R-TX) for this bold proposal and for using the $117 million savings to restore funding for important science and education programs.
With regards to the changing federal budget situation, I spoke to our Board of Trustees and Members last month about the impending budget climate, and presented my suggestions for new approaches of doing business and working together in a different way as a community. You can see my comments here.
A group of people who already know about the importance of ocean science are the students participating in this weekend’s 15th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals competition in Baltimore, Maryland. As I mentioned last week, I will be attending and very much looking forward to it. Twenty-five high school teams from around the country will be competing on their knowledge of ocean-related topics. For detailed information on the event, click here. As you know, I feel this is an extremely important program for our field and science in general. I strongly encourage you to come watch this next generation of ocean scientists and national leaders in action. You won’t be disappointed. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a better thing to do this weekend!