Today the Trump Administration announced its plans for the FY2018 federal budget. The proposal is thin on details but calls for unprecedented funding reductions for numerous federal agencies, including those that our university depends on to support research. Of particular concern to us is the plan to reduce the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget by $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, and the US Department of Education budget by $9.2 billion, or 14 percent. Although the budget is silent on the future of the Institute of Education Sciences and holds harmless technical assistance programs for IDEA, the target for reduction suggests there will be impacts. Virtually all of the other science agencies except NASA are slated for similar reductions. The president’s budget also proposes to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Economic Development Administration and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Oddly, the announcement makes no mention of the budget allocation for the National Science Foundation (NSF).
While these proposed budget cuts are alarming and their impact should not be minimized, there is no need for panic. I urge to you remember that this is just the first step in what is likely to be a very long negotiation with Congress over the final terms of the FY2018 budget for the nation. In addition, there is very strong bipartisan support in Congress for research and development. For example, during the recent lame duck session, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act that authorizes increases in funding for NIH. Congress also passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), which authorizes and sets policy for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and various STEM education programs across the federal government. Keep in mind also that Congress must still act on the current FY2017 budget, which expires at the end of April.
Be assured that the UO will be vocal in our support of federal funding for research and scholarship across all disciplines. We will work closely with our colleagues through the AAU and APLU to amplify our voice. You may also find that your disciplinary societies are developing responses to this proposed budget.
The senior leadership of the UO remains steadfast in our conviction that research excellence is a core mission of this university, and we will be relentless in our efforts to remind our elected officials that federal investment in research is crucial to the economic growth and prosperity of the U.S.
David O. Conover
Vice President for Research and Innovation