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Sequestration Impacts on NSF, NIH and Statistical Agencies


With sequestration now a reality, the impacts are starting to be reported. For most of the non-defense federal agencies, the cut was 5.1% from the FY12 level. These levels are likely to be the final FY13 levels once Congress resolves the FY13 budget (recalling that the federal government is on a continuing resolution through the end of March.) 

I'll be updating this blog entry as I learn of the impacts from sequestration to NSF, NIH and the federal statistical agencies . I'll also be updating the following blog entries of the budget levels (no impacts): FY13 Statistical Agency Budget Developments and FY13 NSF and NIH Budget Developments.  Follow @ASA_SciPol on Twitter to monitor updates.

---- February 25 update

BLS curtailing Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and the International Price Program (IPP), according to a new BLS announcement. See also this 2/24 WSJ article, Labor Department Weighs Cutting Data on Import and Export Prices to Save Money. Even though the FY14 budget eased sequestration, I still categorize this cut as being due to sequestration since the FY14 BLS budget remains well below the FY11 and FY12 budgets: FY14 Statistical Agency Budget Developments.

---- December 13 update

COPAFS points out that pp 19-32 of the FY14 OMB document, Statistical Programs of the U.S. Government, "provide overviews of the program changes in 2013 that the major statistical agencies made to accommodate the budget cuts resulting from sequestration."

 December 4 update:

On October 23 in a web posting (, ERS Administrator Mary Bohman announced the impacts of its FY14 budget being frozen at its FY13 level. ERS will have to terminate several commodity newsletters and data products. The most affected commodities are aquaculture, vegetables and pulses, cattle, and fruit and tree nuts. For full details, please see

November 22 update:

BEA forced to cut Local Area Personal Income (LAPI) Tables through FY14:

November 14 update:

The Sequestration report from NDD United, Faces of Austerity, features the BEA RIMS II cuts in its coverage of the impacts of sequestration on the federal statistical agencies. See p. 129.

July 25 update:

In an email to Census Bureau stakeholders, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a delay to release of Economic Census statistical products:

At the end of March, Congress enacted a continuing appropriations bill that included automatic spending cuts due to sequestration and other substantial cuts. This bill funds the 2012 Economic Census at $128.7 million for the full fiscal year, a reduction of $24.1 million or 15.8% from the $152.7 million request in the President's Budget. The reduced funding will cause a delay of three months in the release of 2012 Economic Census statistical products. This will push back critical uses of the data, including Bureau of Economic Analysis benchmarking activities that support the accuracy of Gross Domestic Product estimates.

Advance Report - March 2014
Industry Series - May 2014 through February 2015
Geographic Area Series - February 2015 through December 2015
Subject and Summary Series - May 2015 through March 2016

A detailed schedule of 2012 data products will be posted to in the near future.
Questions can be directed to
Philip W. Thompson
Assistant Chief, Product Development and Strategic Planning Staff
Acting Small Business Ombudsman
Office of Economic Planning and Innovation
U.S. Census Bureau
Office: (301) 763-6522; 
July 22 update:

Last week, the NSF posted an update on sequestration impact in FY2013. The update include these six items:
  • NSF will fully fund all existing continuing grant increments in FY 2013;
  • NSF directorates have now received full-year funding allocations, which will allow funding decisions to be made prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30th;
  • NSF expects to make fewer new awards in FY 2013;
  • NSF will fully fund all FY 2013 major research equipment and facilities construction projects;
  • Competitions for some programs and solicitations may not be conducted in FY 2013; and
  • NSF staff will not be furloughed, allowing for no interruptions to the NSF proposal review and award decision making processes.

July 8 update:

BEA releases "Impact of Sequestration Reductions on the Availability and Quality of Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis" on June 19. The document announces the termination of three programs: Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS), Local Area Personal Income Statistics (LAPI),  Foreign Direct Investment Analytical Products. The document also includes this statement:

BEA understands that all of its analytical products and statistical programs are of high value to public and private sector decision-makers, and thus very careful consideration was given to program reductionsin an effort to minimize the impact on data users. Given the reduced funding level, BEA must reduce certain statistical series, but will continue to produce statistics that feed into the estimation of gross domestic product (GDP), statistics required by law, and statistics required for the administration of federal programs.
June 19 update:

Acting Census Director Tom Mesenbourg releases the impacts of the FY13 budget on their programs in an online blog. Here is an excerpt from that blog:
Economic Programs: In March, the Census Bureau suspended all work on the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) in anticipation of reduced Economic Census funding. This survey, conducted every five years, is the only source of information on women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses and small business entrepreneurial activity. In order to initiate SBO data collection this fiscal year, the Census Bureau is reprogramming $2.25 million from the 2010 Census to the Economic Census.

Reductions to the 2012 Economic Census staffing levels, both in the National Processing Center and at Census headquarters, may cause up to a six-month delay in the delivery of over 1,600 Economic Census products, which ultimately support the accuracy of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Census Bureau has suspended all work on the 2012 Information, Communication, and Technology Survey, which is an important source of business investment data used for economic forecasting.

2020 Decennial Census Programs: Planning for a Decennial Census is a decade-long endeavor, based on planning and research. The substantial cuts to the 2020 Census threaten the Census Bureau’s ability to deliver the preliminary design options for the 2020 Census in FY 2015, as scheduled. At the reduced funding level, we cannot carry out the planned research and testing plan needed to inform the design options. The reduced FY 2013 funding level also has forced us to delay field tests and preparatory work related to FY 2014 field tests, which pushes back the evidence needed to make design decisions in FY 2015. Delays in research related to more cost-effective census methods could result in higher census costs later in the decade.

Geographic Support Program: Reductions to the Geographic Support program will delay important research related to the Master Address File, likely delaying decisions about the viability of cost-saving designs associated with the 2020 Census address canvassing operation, scheduled for later in the decade.

American Community Survey: Cuts to the American Community Survey (ACS) eliminate much needed investments in the ACS processing infrastructure, program management, and research program. These reductions undermine the ACS’s ability to serve as a test bed for the 2020 Census and will likely delay planned ACS content and instrument research and testing.

Demographic Programs: Cuts to these programs prevent the implementation of new supplemental poverty measures. These new measures would have supplemented the official measures of poverty with annual measures from the CPS Annual Social and Economic Supplement that more accurately measure economic deprivation. These cuts will also delay data releases for the 2014 panel for the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

2010 Census: In order to provide funding for the 2012 Survey of Business Owners, the Census Bureau requested and the Congress approved the reprogramming of $2.25 million from the 2010 Census. The loss of this funding will delay, or possibly cancel, the release of the 2010 Census Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) file. The staff working on the 2010 PUMS file have been reassigned to work on the 2020 Census program.
On a separate but related note, the June Amstat News has a column on the final FY13 budgets: Congress Finalizes FY13 Budgets.

May 18 update:

The May 17 issue of The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Weekly Round Up reported:
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) released a new analysis of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding trends highlighting the devastating impact of sequestration on the nation’s capacity to support critical research. According to data from the NIH Website compiled by FASEB:
  • In constant dollars (adjusted for inflation), the NIH budget in FY 2013 is at its lowest level since FY 2000.
  • NIH awards are expected to drop from the 9,032 made in FY 2012 to an estimated 8,283 in FY 2013 (an 8.3 percent decrease).
  • The number of competing research project grants (RPGs) funded by NIH has also fallen sharply since 2003. In FY 2013, NIH estimates that it will make 8,232 RPG awards, 2,110 (20.3 percent) less than in 2003
Find the analysis at:  

Find additional information about the NIH budget on the FASEB website:
May 13 update:

The May 10 issue of The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Weekly Round Up reported:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) May 8 released its FY 2013 operating plan. According to the plan, NIH will have an operating budget of $29.15 billion for FY 2013, a $1.7 billion decrease below the FY 2012 level. The notice states, “Despite the reduced funding, the NIH remains committed to the mission of seeking fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burden of illness and disability.”

The notice also states that previous reductions to non-competing continuation awards in FY 2013 may be partially restored, but “are unlikely to be restored to the previous committed level.”

According to the notice, additional details on NIH fiscal operations and funding strategies for each I/C will be available at:  

Find the NIH fiscal policy at:
April 27 update:
The ERS reported the impacts of its deep budget cuts in an April 25 memo from ERS Administrator Mary Bohman. ERS will not release ten commodity newsletters and data products that are listed on the Agency’s calendar, covering the following commodities: dairy, aquaculture, vegetables and pulses, rice, cattle, and fruit and tree nuts. ERS will also suspend the following programs:


  • Agricultural Productivity in the U.S.
  • County-Level Data Sets (“County Look-Up Tables”)
  • Fertilizer Imports/Exports
  • Commerce, Foreign Trade Division. 
  • Organic Handlers: Procurement and Contracting
  • Commodity Consumption by Population Characteristics
  • Federal Funds
We also learned this week that NCHS didn't have any sequestration cuts because its funding is through Public Health Fun.

Impacts of Census Bureau FY13 cuts due to be released May 10.

April 9 update:
With sequestration in place just over a month and the FY13 budget finalized for less than a month, the impacts of sequrestration are stll being determined. Indeed, as of 10 days ago, most agencies didn't know their final FY13 budgets.

Together with BLS (see below), NASS was the first to detail impacts of sequestration on its budget. According to a March 12, 2013 by the Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS will the following 10 reports:
  • All Catfish and Trout Reports including Catfish Feed Deliveries and Catfish Processing
  • July Cattle Report
  • Potato Stocks Reports
  • All Non-Citrus Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Forecasts and Estimates
  • June Rice Stocks Report
  • All Hops and Hops Stocks Estimates
  • Mink Report
  • Milk Production Reports including Production, Disposition and Income
  • June on- and off-farm stocks for Austrian Winter Peas, Chickpeas, Dry Peas and Lentils
  • July acreage forecasts for Austrian Winter Peas, Dry Edible Peas and Lentils
It's worth noting that NASS has fared relatively well for FY13. As shown at  FY13 Statistical Agency Budget Developments, it received an anomaly in the final continuing resolution so that it could carry out the Census of Agriculture. So instead of a 5.1% budget cut, it received a 4.7% increase, though still $13 million short of their FY13 request of $179 million.

For National Cancer Institute grant recipients, ASA President Marie Davidian received word that grants are only being funded at 90% and for only six months, with funding for the next six months to be decided later. Such guidance makes planning very difficult.

While we are still waiting details, it seems the Census Bureau, with a final budget 8% below their FY12 level and 10 % below their FY13 request, will have to put off some of their preparation for the 2020 Census and some of the quinquennial Economic Census. They also seem likely to freeze hiring and take many other cost-cutting measures. Its 3% requested increase for FY13 was a result of ramping up funding for the 2020 Census and to carrout the Economic Census.  

Please email me any impacts you are seeing on your work from sequestration.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported, as a result of the $30 million cut to their budget, that they will
  1. Eliminate the Measuring Green Jobs products.
  2. Eliminate the Mass Layoff Statistics program.
  3. Eliminate the International Labor Comparisons program.
  4. Freeze hiring and curtail spending.

The sequestration impacts for the National Agricultural Statistics Service are expected to be especially harsh as they are in the middle of the Census of Agriculture and needed an additional $20 million in FY13 to carry it out. Instead they are seeing an $8 million cut. Early guidance indicated Census of Agriculture operations would be stopped, which will "negatively affect decisions made by farmers, business and governments and ultimately will bring volatility to food markets and impact prices consumers pay." 

For NSF and NIH, sequestration will mean fewer grants and/or smaller grants. In a March 1 Science article entitled, "What It Means for Agencies To Be Under the Sequester," Jeffrey Mervis reports that current NIH grantees will see their awards trimmed by several percent. NIH also anticipates hundreds fewer awards than in FY12. For NSF, which commits its funding upfront, the award amounts won't be trimmed but, as reported earlier, NSF will likely award 1000 fewer awards than in FY12. On February 27, NSF Director Suresh issues this Important Notice To Presidents Of Universities And Colleges And Heads Of Other National Science Foundation Awardee Organizations, siting the following core principles to guide sequestration planning activities:

  • Protect commitments to NSF’s core mission and maintain existing awards;
  • Protect the NSF workforce; and
  • Protect STEM human capital development programs.

FASEB has done an analysis of how the $1.6 billion cut to the NIH budget will be realized state by state, estimating $180 million less in NIH funding to California in FY13; $127 less to Massachusetts; $104 less to New York; and $54 million less to North Carolina. Their document can be found here.  The NIH sequestration operation plan is posted here.

In the same Science article, Mervis cites former Director Bob Groves to report the 5.1% cut "will mean that proposed cost-saving measures won’t be ready for the 2020 census."

In advance of sequestration, Senator Mikulski, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as federal agencies for letters of the anticipated effects of sequestration. As described in the blog entries below, some of those letters included impacts for the statistical agencies, NIH and NSF.

See also:   

See other ASA Science Policy blog entries. For ASA science policy updates, follow @ASA_SciPol on Twitter.

1 comment




03-19-2013 19:57

Every NIH and NSF program is vital to the US, but everyone else's program can be easily cut without consequence, and we don't have a $17 Trillion debt and a $1 Trillion deficit.
Are there any adults out there?