WASHINGTON (12 March 2019) – The budget proposed by the White House for FY2020 includes funding increases for a number of key programs, including cybersecurity and defense research. However, cuts to critical budgets for NIST, NSF, NASA and DOE technology programs are concerning.
“The White House’s FY2020 budget has some bright spots,” said IEEE-USA President Thomas Coughlin. “President Trump has proposed modest increases in several crucial research budgets, including cybersecurity. But overall, this proposal falls short of meeting America’s need for advanced engineering research to maintain our competitive edge.”
President Trump’s proposed budget rightly places a high priority on cybersecurity by requesting more than $9.6 billion in 2020 to advance DOD’s cyber missions. This provides the resources to continue to maintain America’s highest cybersecurity standards. IEEE-USA encourages the President to work with Congress to ensure robust support for other DOD basic research programs.
In other areas, the budget proposal is clearly inadequate. For example, the $688 million proposed for NIST represents an approximate 20 percent cut (excluding facilities), instead of the large increase actually needed to cover vital national priorities in AI and quantum computing. IEEE-USA supports President Trump’s executive order on AI, but hopes to see associated financial commitments reflected in the final FY2020 budget.
The National Science Foundation also faces large cuts to its budget under the President’s proposal. It would receive $7.1 billion, a 12 percent cut relative to the 2019 appropriation. This would endanger the important work NSF does in engineering and the mathematical and physical sciences. IEEE-USA instead calls for a modest 4 percent increase to NSF’s FY2020 appropriation.
Further, the White House also proposes cutting funding to the DOE’s Office of Science by approximately 16.5 percent. Some DOE programs face devastating budget reductions, including greater than 50 percent cuts to applied technology, which covers renewable energy, nuclear power and energy efficiency. For the US to ensure nuclear security, we must support both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons research at DOE. IEEE-USA looks forward to working with the Administration on improving energy technology innovation as well as efforts in cyber and energy security.
NASA would see an overall cut of 2.2 percent, with larger cuts to specific programs, such as Planetary Science and Earth Science. Though the White House prioritizes funds for the James Webb Space Telescope, the President’s proposal includes the complete elimination of funding for WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope) and NASA’s education office. IEEE-USA is eager to work with the Administration on its goal of restructuring space technology programs, but is concerned that this budget does not allow the US to adequately maintain its leadership in space.
IEEE-USA understands the need to rein in the national deficit, but doing so by cutting research funding carries significant and troubling risk. “America’s budget deficit poses a long-term threat to this country’s prosperity,” said Coughlin. “However, insufficient investments in basic and applied research are an equally grave threat. Reducing funding for basic engineering research is the wrong way to solve our country’s budget problem.”
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Media Relations Associate, IEEE-USA Communications
Director, IEEE-USA Government Relations