The House Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the FY 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. The unnumbered bill was passed by the committee by a vote of 28 to 21.

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $4,876.0 million
The FY 2014 request is $5,152.8 million, an increase of $276.8 million or 5.7 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $4,653.0 million, a decrease of $223.0 million or 4.6 percent

The report explains that the committee placed “a high priority on funding” the programs of the Office of Science, and described its concern about the STEM pipeline:

“The Science program office includes Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Science Laboratories Infrastructure, Safeguards and Security, and Science Program Direction. The Committee has placed a high priority on funding these activities within the limited resources available in fiscal year 2014. The private sector is not likely to invest in basic science, since the findings either have high non-commercial value or are not likely to be commercialized in the near or medium term. However, this work is very important to sustaining the scientific leadership of the United States and can provide the underpinnings for valuable intellectual property in the coming decades.”

“The Committee is concerned about the long-term science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce pipeline development for underrepresented minorities and notes the National Academies recommendation that the federal government offer support for undergraduate and graduate STEM programs focused on increasing the participation and success of minority students through engaged mentoring, enriching research experiences, and opportunities to publish, present, and network.

“Further, the Committee encourages the Department to develop and broaden partnerships with minority serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In particular, the Committee encourages programs involving undergraduate research experiences, high speed computing access and education, nonproliferation studies, and research inclusive of the social sciences. The Committee recognizes the importance of workplace diversity in the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and directs the Secretary of Energy, not later than 120 days after enactment of this Act, to provide a detailed plan on recruitment and retention of diverse talent that includes outreach and recruitment programs at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.”

Source: Richard Jones | The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News