White House document reports 8.2% sequestration cuts for NSF, NIH, and statistical agencies

By Steve Pierson posted 09-18-2012 16:14


With a little more than three months until the across-the-board sequester cuts take place, the White House released its report on the impacts of sequestration on September 14. (For a short background on sequestration, see the July 13 blog entry, With Sequestration Six Months Away, Activity to Avoid the Cuts Ramp Up.)

The report states that almost all non-defense discretionary programs would see 8.2% cuts. The defense cuts would be 9.4%. According to David Malakoff's Science Insider 9/14 story, Sequestration Would Cut U.S. Science Budgets By 8.2%, White House Estimates, the White House report confirms the previously predicted steep cuts for research agencies if sequestration becomes as reality on January 2. The NIH budget would be cut by more than $2.5 billion and NSF by $586 million, in line with this summer's Research!America sequestration report on NIH, NSF, AHRQ, CDC and FDA impacts (mentioned in the July 13 blog entry.)

The White House report covers discretionary programs, including the statistical agencies. The agencies specifically mentioned in the report, BLS, Census Bureau, EIA, ERS, and NASS, would all see 8.2% cuts. (See below for agency abbreviation guide.) The umbrella organizations/units for the other primary statistical agencies - BEA, BJS, BTS, IRS SOI, NCES, NCHS, NCSES, and SSA ORES -- are also listed for 8.2% cuts.

For other FY13 budget developments, see FY13 Statistical Agency Budget Developments and FY13 NSF and NIH Budget Developments.

Congressional action is the only way to avoid the sequestration cuts but, with Congress about to recess until after the election, that would be one of many big agenda items for the lame-duck session. As the September 10 Politico story Fiscal cliff: All talk, no deal-making reports, the prospects for Congressional action seem dim at this point. [NB: "Fiscal cliff" Politico piece refers to the tax cuts expiring at the end of the year but the piece mentions sequestration.]

ASA signed onto a letter from the non-defense discretionary (NDD) coalition in July with 3000 other organizations urging a "balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs." The NDD Coalition is leading the efforts to raise awareness for the impacts of the sequestration and for a balanced approached to avoid it. The ASA is maintaining a close watch on the situation and discussing further action for after the election.

See also:

Statistical Agency abbreviations 

  • BEA Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • BJS Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  • ERS Economic Research Service
  • EIA Energy Information Administration
  • NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service
  • NCES National Center for Education Statistics
  • NCHS National Center for Health Statistics
  • NCSES National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF
  • ORES Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, SSA
  • SOI Statistics of Income Division, IRS

Dear Colleague,

Unless policymakers in Congress can agree to a deficit reduction program by year's end, the federal government will automatically enact 8.9 percent budget cuts for all discretionary spending beginning January 3, 2013. These cuts, commonly referred to as "sequestration," were built into last summer's negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. As funding for almost all scientific agencies is classified as discretionary, the consequences of these cuts for the science and engineering community would be catastrophic.

Sequestration's potential impact is laid out in detail in a new report from AAAS's Federal R&D Budget Analysis Program. This report lays out how sequestration will affect each science funding agency and what these cuts will mean for current and future research initiatives. I urge you to review this alarming analysis as soon as possible.

In order to avoid these devastating cuts to U.S. research and development budgets, the President and the Congress must work in partnership to reach a consensus plan to reduce the deficit. Historically, funding for research and development has enjoyed bipartisan support, and I urge you now to contact your representatives and remind them of just how important strong support for science and engineering research is to the future health of our citizens, our community, and our economy. Our policymakers must all work together to find a resolution that will help move our nation forward without doing great damage to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. For a list of contact information of Congressional leaders click here.

Now, more than ever, we need you to raise your voice and join us in standing up for science and engineering. Together we can make a difference.


Alan I. Leshner, CEO
American Association for the Advancement of Science