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Budget deal contains modest boost for innovation funding

February 21, 2019
By: Jason Rittenberg

RIS at $23.5 million, MEP at $140 million, NSF at $8.1 billion

The FY 2019 federal budget was completed last week, finalizing funding for commerce, science and small business agencies. Most programs supporting innovation activities received the same funding as in FY 2018, although Regional Innovation Strategies will have $23.5 million, an increase of $2.5 million, for the current award solicitation. More details on each agency’s budget are below — SSTI members are also reminded to stay tuned to the Funding Supplement throughout the year for notices when each program’s funding opportunity is available.

Economic Development

EDA ($304 million) saw an increase of $2.5 million.

NIST’s budget includes level funding of $140 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Within the SBA, the budget deal increases funding for the Growth Accelerator Challenge to $2 million and maintains funding for regional clusters ($5 million) and FAST ($3 million).

The Treasury’s CDFI Fund also received level funding of $250 million, including $160 million for financial and technical assistance grants to community development financial institutions.

USDA Rural Development funding was largely level at $237 million (increase of $1 million), although Business & Industry loans had more than $12 million trimmed from their funding. The Rural Broadband Pilot Program, which has a current notice for $600 million in awards, receives another $550 million in the deal.

Science & Research

NIST’s funding decreases by $213 million, entirely taken from construction funding for a total of $986 million. The agency’s science funding remains level, including $15 million for Manufacturing USA.

NOAA is also receiving a cut to construction funding (decrease of $485 million) but an increase of $61 million to its operations, research and facilities budget ($3.6 billion in FY 2019).

NSF is seeing an increase of 4 percent to $8.1 billion in funding for FY 2019. Most of the increase is for research equipment and facilities ($296 million total) and for research activities ($6.5 billion in FY 2019).

NASA is renaming its education activities as “STEM Engagement” and is receiving $110 million ($10 million increase) for this outreach. NASA’s science programs are seeing a substantial, 11 percent increase to $6.9 billion for FY 2019.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is seeing a 25 percent increase to its funding ($1.7 billion), with much of this increasing owing to $241 million in additional funding for buildings and facilities. USDA is exploring moving the service outside of the greater Washington area.

Homeland Security is receiving less R&D funding for many of its agencies, including at the department level (no funding for R&D office, $820 million for Science & Tech Directorate in FY 2019), Coast Guard ($20 million) and Border Patrol (no funding). However, the new Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office will have $83 million for R&D.

The White House Office of Science and Tech Policy and National Space Council are receiving level funding of $5.5 million and $2 million, respectively.

Next Steps

UPDATED 2/21/19: The FY 2019 budget is now complete, and the administration is expected to submit its proposal for the FY 2020 budget in the coming weeks. There is a possibility that the administration’s emergency order for budget funding will repurpose money appropriated elsewhere in the FY 2019 budget, but at this time, there is no indication that this will affect science and innovation funding.

For more information on the federal budget and innovation policy — including how to get engaged with SSTI’s work in Washington, DC — contact Jason Rittenberg (rittenberg@ssti.org | 614.901.1690) today.

federal budget