Science was supposed to see a major funding boost after Congress passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act last year. The bipartisan bill promised to provide $174 billion over the next 5 years to various federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Science funding shortfall for fiscal 2024
Source: Federation of American Scientists.
By passing the legislation, “Congress took highly laudable steps to prioritize scientific investment and put us on a path toward global competitiveness,” says Matt Hourihan, an associate director at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a policy research and advocacy group. But after analyzing next year’s proposed federal science budget, Hourihan fears that lawmakers may already be dropping the ball.
According to an FAS report written by Hourihan, funding set aside by Congress for NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office of Science is $7 billion below authorized levels. Although these agencies were supposed to receive $26.8 billion through the CHIPS and Science Act, the House and Senate have appropriated only about $19 billion to date.
Other science organizations are dismayed as well. “The gap between what was authorized in that bill and the proposed funding for the coming Fiscal Year 2024 will mean fewer grants for researchers, smaller stipends for graduate students, and overall fewer resources for research,” a spokesperson for the American Chemical Society’s Office of Government Affairs, says in an email. ACS publishes C&EN.
It will also give fewer people access to programs created or expanded by the CHIPS act to train the next generation of the scientific workforce, says Faith Savaiano, an associate director at FAS who was not directly involved in the report.
In addition, some advocates worry the current budget shortfall may affect science funding long term. “A decrease or static funding now will mean less funding overall for years to come,” the ACS spokesperson says.
Next year’s budgets for NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office of Science are already on track to hit a 25-year low, following 2 decades of stagnation.