What automatic federal budget cuts mean for CALS research

Let’s hope that Congress buckles down after the election. If not—if automatic across-the-board cutbacks in national spending go into effect at the beginning of 2013—the college’s research budget could be hit for nearly $7 million. CALS received about $87 million in federal research funding in the fiscal year that just ended—about 81 percent of the $107 million in extramural support CALS receives from all sources.

A timer has been ticking down since last summer when Congress passed legislation that raised the federal debt ceiling. The Budget Control Act of 2011 made $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade and called for Congress to cut another $1.2 trillion over the same period. If Congress doesn’t get that done by next January, cuts happen automatically through sequestration – large, automatic, across-the-board reductions in federal funding.

Federally funded research will suffer serious setbacks if the automatic cutbacks take place, according to a report issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “Nondefense R&D, including funding at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and NASA, could be cut by a total of $21.9 billion over five years, or 7.6 percent per agency. The budgets for many agencies would be at their lowest point in a decade or more,” says the report, available here.