In DepthBehind the Numbers

Data check: How a $30 billion hike becomes $3 billion

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Science  06 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6261, pp. 615
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6261.615

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The new 2-year budget that President Barack Obama signed this week has raised the hopes of research advocates that individual agencies may be in line for increases of roughly 5% in 2016. But the good news, which hinges on Congress passing a bill covering spending for every federal agency, is tempered by the fine print in the deal. The problem comes in the second year of the agreement, which raises the current spending ceiling by $50 billion in 2016 and $30 billion in 2017. The 2017 increase is calculated not from 2016 levels but from what it would otherwise have been under a 10-year budget agreement struck in 2011 that remains in effect. In reality, the 2017 budget bump will be only $3 billion more than 2016 levels, leaving scientists feeling once again that research is being squeezed.