Science Policy

A First Look at CHIPS and Science Programs in the FY 2024 Request

03.10.23 | 3 min read | Text by Matt Hourihan

On Thursday, President Biden kicked off the FY 2024 cycle with the latest budget request. This skinny version of the budget – full details of which will come on Monday – contained similar themes as prior budgets: a focus on clean energy and climate, manufacturing and supply chains, applied R&D, place-based innovation, and cancer research, among others.

But as the first budget before a divided Congress, the Administration’s plans face greater hurdles than in prior years. Pointing to a worsening long-term fiscal picture, the new House majority has proposed rolling discretionary spending back to FY 2022 levels which, if defense, veterans, and homeland security spending were left off the table, could include cuts of roughly 24% for other non-defense discretionary programs – the home for most federal science programs outside the Department of Defense.

Plus, proposals have already begun to emerge for long-term spending caps, which resulted in a cumulative R&D shortfall of over $200 billion the last time they were instituted under the Budget Control Act in 2011.

It may be a reflection of these difficult fiscal straits that the Administration somewhat scaled back its discretionary spending ambitions, requesting less than a 5% boost this time around versus a more than 7% boost last year. The budget continues to relatively favor nondefense increases (7.3%) versus defense (3.3%).

In spite of the scaled back request, there are still some large increases apparent thus far. A few of these are cited below, though additional details are TBD.

Overall Funding

Under the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, three R&D agencies – the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science (SC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – are authorized to receive up to $26.8 billion in FY 2024. This would represent a massive $7.2 billion or 37% jump from FY 2023 omnibus levels, which themselves ended up $3.2 billion short of the FY 2023 targets.

The Administration opts for a more moderate path in the request, providing $21.7 billion aggregate according to budget materials. This is still good for an 11% year-over-year increase, though $5.1 billion below the CHIPS and Science targets (see below).

Individually, NSF would receive a topline increase of 15% ($1.4 billion) and SC, 9% ($700 million). NIST would receive only a $5 million increase, though this comes with increases in research and, especially, technology programs (see below) mostly offset by a decline in construction funding – which saw substantial earmark spending in FY 2023.

Outside the discretionary budget, the Administration is also seeking $4 billion in mandatory expenditures for the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program, which was authorized at $10 billion in CHIPS and Science and received $500 million in the omnibus.

Agency Priorities

Much more agency detail will be available beginning Monday the 13th, but here’s a brief snapshot. 

For NSF, the request includes $1.2 billion for the new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate including $300 million for the Regional Innovation Engines. The budget also includes $1.4 billion, a $198 million increase above the omnibus, for STEM education programs; $2 billion for R&D related to advanced industries; and $1.6 billion for climate R&D (several of these spending priorities likely overlap).

SC would receive a $680 million or 8% increase. This includes a billion-dollar investment in fusion; more will be revealed next week. Beyond SC, DOE proposes substantial research, development and demonstration (RD&D) investments to boost clean energy innovation, manufacturing, and the domestic supply chain.

NIST lab programs would see only a 4% increase according to the Department of Commerce budget table, while manufacturing programs would see a big jump: the Industrial Technology Services account would receive a $163 million increase above the omnibus to $375 million total, including $98 million for Manufacturing USA institutes, $60 million for domestic production of institute-developed technologies. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership would receive a $102 million increase to $277 million.