Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Sequestration Follies

Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Sequestration Follies

Article excerpt

In spite of substantial debate and controversy in the days leading up to the deadline, sequestration went into effect on March 1 as required by law. Cuts to defense and nondefense R&D will total an estimated $9.0 billion in the FY 2013 federal R&D budget. These cuts will be particularly harsh because they must be squeezed into the final seven months of the fiscal year.

Some agencies have already issued new memoranda on the impact of sequestration on agency operations. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, stated that the "impact could include: not issuing continuation awards, or negotiating a reduction in the scope of ... awards to meet the constraints imposed by sequestration. Additionally, plans for new grants or cooperative agreements may be re-scoped, delayed, or canceled depending on the nature of the work and the availability of resources." The National Science Foundation (NSF), meanwhile, has stated that although it will honor existing grants, "the total number of new research grants will be reduced by approximately 1,000."

As widely expected, Congress failed to pass a more balanced alternative deficit reduction plan to replace the sequester. The House of Representatives, however, did pass an appropriations bill (H.R. 933) that would fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year. The legislation, which passed 267-151, would fund both defense and nondefense R&D at FY 2012 levels, but because the sequester remains in effect, the net effect is a roughly 7.8% decrease for defense R&D and a 5% decrease for nondefense agency R&D. …

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