American Association for Cancer Research



                                                                                                    JUNE 2010


Fiscal year 2012 budgets requested to be reduced by at least 5 percent

While Congress has barely begun its work on the fiscal year 2011 budget, the White House is already looking ahead to FY2012 with an eye on reducing non-security related domestic spending.

Amidst growing concerns about the federal deficit and perceptions that spending in Washington is out of control, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Peter Orszag recently instructed federal agencies to begin the process of identifying programs that were the “least critical,” inefficient or redundant, in order to reduce up to 5 percent of each agency’s total discretionary budget. “Ultimately our goal is not to cut for cutting’s sake but to modernize and reform government, to empower people with the information they require to make choices about what’s best for them, to make their voices heard by government officials, and to give the American people the data they need to bring about change.”

No agency, not even the Pentagon, is exempt from the administration’s request. In his FY2011 Budget Proposal, President Obama recommended freezing non-security spending at FY2010 levels for three years. Actions this week suggest this recommendation is gaining traction. OMB instructed agencies to aim for FY2012 spending levels that are 5 percent below the President’s FY2011 Proposal. While past administrations have required agencies to justify programs, budget analysts say the request to identify programs for elimination is unprecedented. To lessen the blow, Obama is expected to ask Congress for new authority to allow agencies to keep half of the savings they identify, putting the money toward higher priority programs, and to carry over funding from one fiscal year to another.

Regardless of calls for fiscal discipline, neither the House nor the Senate has passed a formal budget resolution, a broad, non-binding, framework for federal spending to inform the next steps in the appropriations process and, to date, none of the 12 FY2011 appropriations bills have been put together. Sources in Washington doubt there will be formal budget resolutions this year; however, House Democrats maintain the position that a resolution is still possible. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) suggested recently that “at the very least, there will be a one-year budget plan” considered by the House. Van Hollen also noted that domestic spending proposed in the House likely will be lower than that proposed by President Obama due to pressure from the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition.

Despite the threat of frozen spending and general uncertainty in Washington, the AACR and like-minded groups continue to work to engage appropriators to make the case that biomedical research is a high priority, and that federal investment in the NIH should be increased by at least $4.2 billion, which is equal to half of the two-year research funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for a total of $35.2 billion for NIH. The AACR is also advocating a total of $5.795 billion for NCI.

With contentious mid-term elections right around the corner, it is likely Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) this fall that would freeze funding for federal programs at FY2010 levels into 2011.

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