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Final 2012 budget is a mixed bag for science

The bill President Obama signed into law on 23 December to complete the fiscal year (FY) 2012 process placed total R&D spending at $142 billion, which represents a decrease of about $1.8bn, or 1.3 per cent, according to initial analysis released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The National Science Foundation’s budget was up 2.5 per cent and its “major research equipment and facilities construction” account skyrocketed by nearly 43 per cent while its “research and related activities” rose 2.8 per cent in FY2012, analysis by the American Institute of Physics showed.

In addition, AIP found that basic research at the Department of Defense rose more than 16 per cent, and NASA Science was up 3.1 per cent

The law—passed about three months after the start of FY2012—reduced the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 3 per cent to $8.4bn and provided the National Institutes of Health with a tiny bump of 1 per cent for total funding of $30.7bn. The White House says the final appropriations provide the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science with an increase of roughly 1 per cent to $4.9bn.

AAAS concluded that the appropriations measure actually increases R&D funding at DOE in “some unexpected ways.”

For example, while the agency’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s overall budget remains steady in FY2012, the portion devoted to R&D will increase 36.7 per cent, or $283 million, the organisation said.

In contrast, it noted that DOE fossil energy R&D will decrease in by $70m, or 15.4 per cent.