FY2018 Budget & Appropriations for Science

Chemistry is supported by a number of agencies across the federal government.  With the fiscal year 2018 (October 2017-September 2018) budget, the administration has proposed a number of dramatic changes to programs that fund chemical research, standards, and safety measures. View agency-by-agency breakdowns of the changes and how they would impact the chemical enterprise.

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Browse by Agency

Agency/Program FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 Request Request 17-18 $ Change Request 17-18 %Change
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) 280 291 306 20* -286 -93%
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) 11 11 11 9.4* -1.6 -15%
DOE Office of Science 5133 5350 5392 4472.5 -919.5 -17%
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 8140 8140 8060 5700 -2360 -29%
National Institutes of Health (NIH) 30084 32084 34084 26924 -7160 -21%
National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) 864 964 954 725 -229 -24%
National Science Foundation (NSF) 7398 7494 7472 6653 -819 -11%

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $6.6 billion, an 11% cut versus FY 2017.

The basics: NSF funds fundamental science and engineering research across all fields of study, so an 11% cut would harm a broad array of basic science projects.  In terms of grants, NSF projects a loss of 800 awards per year based on this budget. That’s a lot of groundbreaking research that is not going to get done.

The impact on chemistry:  More than half of all chemistry research at NSF is funded by the Math and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS) through the Chemistry (CHE) and Materials Research (DMR) programs. The President’s request would see MPS slashed by 10%, even though MPS expects an overall increase in applications for funding over the next year. NSF’s Centers for Chemical Innovation, which focus on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges, would also be sharply cut.

Status (08/02): Congress is offering a mixed bag for NSF, but both chambers look to be more generous than the President. The House bill would flat fund (versus 2017) NSF’s Research & Related Activities (R&RA) account—which funds the research Directorates—while the Senate version would actually cut R&RA by 2%. Of note, the Senate is also pushing NSF to develop a long-term vision for sustainable chemistry research and development at the agency. Both the House and Senate bills await consideration by their full respective chambers, and the numbers might improve if Congress can agree to raise the current legal limits on overall discretionary program spending.


Department of Energy Office of Science (SC)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $4.5 billion, a 17% cut versus FY 2017.

The basics: SC is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S. and the lead entity focused on fundamental research into future energy solutions. In addition to its six research programs, SC has primary oversight and stewardship for 10 of DOE’s 17 national laboratories.

The impact on chemistry:  The majority of chemistry research funded by SC comes from two research programs- Basic Energy Sciences (BES) and Biological and Environmental Research (BER). Neither of these programs fare well in the President’s budget. BES is slated for a 17% cut including a $46 million cut to the Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division (CSGB) as compared to FY 2016*. Losses at CSGB would impact each area of research in this division: Fundamental interactions, Photochemistry/Biochemistry, and Chemical Transformations. Cuts would also require BES user facilities—synchrotrons, neutron sources, and nanoscience centers— to operate at suboptimal levels or cease operations altogether.

BER, which would be cut by 43%, would face severe challenges.  Under the President’s plan, BER’s Biological Systems Science division would lose $69 million versus FY 2016,* reducing the resources available for genomics, structural biology, and other approaches used to understand how molecular properties and interactions underpin organism characteristics—and how these characteristics can be harnessed to produce biofuels or achieve other energy goals. BER’s Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences division (formerly known as the “Climate and Environmental Sciences” division), whose programs include research into the physical properties of contributors to Earth’s climate and terrestrial and subsurface systems, would lose $191 million, or 61% of its 2016 budget.*

Status (08/02): Congress has rejected President Trump’s cuts to SC, and there might be an increase on the way. The House bill, which was packaged together with defense-related appropriations bills and passed by the whole chamber, keeps SC’s overall budget at 2017 levels, flat-funds BES, and cuts BER by 5%. Some good news here for researchers: the House urges “optimal operations” for BES and BER user facilities, a contrast with the President’s request. Over on the Senate side, SC’s budget outlook is rosier. The upper chamber would increase SC’s overall budget 3%, including gains of about 6% for BES and more than 3% for BER. CSGB, specifically, does pretty well under this plan: it would get $330.7 million, $65 million more than the President’s request and an increase of 6% compared to its 2016 level.* The Senate Energy and Water appropriations bill has not yet been adopted by the full chamber, and the final numbers for SC will be determined by back-and-forth between the House and Senate.

* Specific FY2017 budget amounts for this program are set by the agency and not yet available.


Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $20 million, with the agency targeted for elimination.

The basics: ARPA-E, which is modeled after the famous DARPA at the Department of Defense, “advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.” Under the President’s budget plan, ARPA-E would receive money only to manage existing projects in FY2018 and close itself down.

The impact on chemistry: Since transformative energy projects will rely on advanced materials and energy storage capabilities, chemistry is at the heart of what ARPA-E does. If the agency is eliminated, ongoing work would wind down and future opportunities for this highly experimental work would be lost.

Status (08/02): ARPA-E may get nearly an 8% increase—or nothing at all—under competing plans for the young agency’s future. The House, agreeing with the President, would take things one step further by declaring that no funds would be appropriated to ARPA-E in 2018, while the Senate would dole out the aforementioned increase.  At the moment, the House bill has passed the full chamber, and the Senate bill is waiting for final approval from the whole chamber. It’s likely that funding will land somewhere between the two poles, but the final outcome won’t be clear until the House and Senate agree on a final budget.


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $26.9 billion, a 21% cut versus FY 2017.

The basics: NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. Each of its institutes and centers (ICs) has its own research agenda, and many focus on specific diseases or body systems. The proposed 21% cut to NIH is spread across every IC, with the Fogarty International Center being targeted for complete elimination. At least some of these savings are proposed to come from a cap on indirect costs, the money NIH pays to universities and other institutions to build their capacity to carry out sponsored research projects.

The impact on chemistry: While chemistry can be found in many different ICs, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is the most prominent supporter of chemistry research because of its total focus on basic research.  The President proposes to fund NIGMS at $2.2 billion, an 18% cut versus FY 2017. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which also provide significant support for basic chemistry research and tools, would be cut by 27%, 21%, and 21%, respectively.

Status (08/02): NIH looks to be a winner in FY2018.  Rejecting the President’s proposed cuts, House appropriators want to fund NIH at $35.2 billion, a 3.3% increase over 2017. NIGMS would get a 2.3% increase and NCI, NBIB, and NCATS would receive increases of 1.4%, 1.5%, and 1.8%, respectively. Just as important, the House’s accompanying report instructs NIH to maintain its current indirect cost procedures and avoid spending any money on implementing any further caps to indirect costs. The bill is still awaiting a vote in the full House; the Senate has not yet released a FY2018 Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions appropriations bill, which includes NIH.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $5.7 billion, a 29% cut versus FY 2017.

The basics: EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. To develop the foundation for the regulatory component of its mission, EPA funds scientific research in the areas of risk assessment and the impact assessment of substances on human health and the environment. The President’s budget request  would see EPA’s funding for Science and Technology drop 37% versus 2017 enacted levels, reducing the agency’s ability to generate and evaluate scientific data.

The impact on chemistry: S&T research at EPA is housed within the Office of Research and Development (ORD), with most chemistry research falling under the Chemical Safety for Sustainability (CSS) research program. CSS helps EPA evaluate and predict the impacts of manufactured chemicals throughout their lifecycle. For FY 2018, the President has asked for $61.7 million for CSS, a 33% cut versus FY2016.* The President is also seeking to eliminate the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) extramural program, a small but important source of funds for environmental science researchers and trainees across the country.

On a more positive note for chemistry, the budget request includes $65 million for EPA’s Chemical Risk Review and Reduction (CRRR) program, a 16% increase versus FY 2016*. While not a research program, CRRR is critical to the chemical enterprise: it’s the program that evaluates the safety of chemicals in commerce under the recently revised Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.

Status (08/02): The House isn’t on board with the President’s deep cut to EPA’s budget but would still reduce the agency’s overall budget by 7%—including a 12% cut to S&T. The House also directs EPA to cut spending on chemical safety research while simultaneously ensuring that research into computational toxicology and endocrine disrupting chemicals remains funded at 2017 levels. The net effect of these provisions is likely a squeeze on other types of research in ORD’s CSS program, such as sustainable chemistry. Under the House plan, the proposed increase to the CRRR program may not happen either: House appropriators want to block the elimination of at least one other program under the broader Toxics Risk Review and Prevention umbrella, potentially limiting additional funds for CRRR. As of now, the full House needs to approve EPA appropriations, and the Senate has yet to begin working on their version.

* Specific FY2017 budget amounts for this program are set by the agency and not yet available.


Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $9.4 million, with the agency targeted for elimination.

The basics: CSB was created by Congress in 1990 “to investigate accidents to determine the conditions and circumstances which led up to the event and to identify the cause or causes so that similar events might be prevented.”

The impact on chemistry: Though different from the other agencies covered here, CSB plays a key role in the chemical enterprise. By investigating and widely reporting safety flaws in the process of chemical production (or in the case of universities, laboratory safety), CSB protects the lives of workers and prevents property damage. No other entity does CSB’s job. If the agency is eliminated, a gap in the safety ecosystem will emerge.

Status (08/02): The House is rejecting President Trump’s request to eliminate the CSB and would instead fund it at $11 million, same as 2017.  No action yet on the Senate’s version of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which includes CSB.


National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)

Proposed FY18 Budget: $725 million, 24% below FY 2017.

The basics:  NIST, part of the Department of Commerce, develops and maintains the national measurement and standards system that makes cross-sector research, development, and commerce easier and more efficient.

The impact on chemistry:  As part of its Scientific and Technical Research Services (STRS), NIST runs about 200 chemistry programs and projects that focus on topics ranging from the detection of hazardous chemical vapors to chemical metrology for polymers manufacturing, biologic drug development, and other chemical products. Under the President’s budget request, STRS would lose 13% of its budget, putting these projects—which benefit chemical firms of all sizes—at risk. NIST’s budget also includes cuts to manufacturing programs that comprise the agency’s Industrial Technology Services (see Manufacturing in the Federal Budget).

Status (08/02): NIST is likely to lose some funding in 2018, but there might be some bright spots for chemistry. For NIST’s overall budget, both the House’s (-10%) and the Senate’s (-1 %) cuts would be less severe than the President’s. While the House would cut both STRS (-4%) and ITS (-32%), the Senate would make a 6.5% cut to ITS but increase STRS by about 1%. Further, the Senate wants to provide up to $5 million for research grants to universities for research and training related to high-volume, metal-based additive manufacturing (3-D printing) and up to another $5 million for university-based research into improving recycled plastics. Both the House and Senate bills await consideration by their full respective chambers, and the numbers might improve if Congress can agree to raise the current legal limits on overall discretionary program spending.


Manufacturing in the Federal Budget

The basics:  Federal programs established to enhance U.S. advanced manufacturing are positioned to receive significant cuts under the administration’s budget request. These programs include:

  • NIST – The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) would receive $6 million in order to eliminate the program. Manufacturing USA (formerly National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI)) would receive $15 million for FY 2018, a 40% cut versus FY 2017.
  • DOE – The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is set to receive a $900 million cut throughout its programs, including renewable electricity for advanced manufacturing. The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVMLP) would be eliminated.

The impact on chemistry: The extensive elimination or cuts in the outlined manufacturing programs would affect research and development at a number of universities and businesses, hindering partnerships designed to build the future of the U.S. economy. Sectors impacted would include everything from agribusiness to chemical and advanced materials manufacturing.

Status (08/02): It looks like there will be some variability in outcomes for these programs:

  • NIST (See above) - NIST industrial programs are almost certainly heading for some kind of cut. The Hollings MEP seems safe from elimination, but might not get a full appropriation versus 2017. The House would fund Hollings MEP at $100 million, a 23% cut compared to last year; the Senate would maintain funding at 2017 levels. Manufacturing USA seems very likely to get a cut: the House would only give this program $5 million, which is even less than the President’s request. The Senate would ratify the President’s approach and fund NIST’s contribution to Manufacturing USA at $15 million, a 40% cut FY 2017.
  • DOE- Overall, EERE is likely to receive less funding in 2018 but won’t suffer as badly as proposed by the President. The House would cut EERE by $986.2 million (-47%), and the Senate would cut EERE by $153.2 million (-7.3%). However, both the House and Senate would keep the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program extant with $5 million in funds, same as 2017.