US federal science and technology budgets squeaked by mostly in the black as Congress wrapped up the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process in December. But with mandatory spending cuts due to take hold in January 2013, the outlook for next year is for level or declining R&D spending, no matter what President Obama may propose when he sends his FY 2013 request to Capitol Hill on 6 February.

For the current year, NSF fared best among the science and technology agencies; its 3.3% increase of $173 million above its FY 2011 level propelled its budget above the $7 billion mark for the first time. At the other end of the scale, NASA took an overall 3.7%, $648 million hit, leaving it with $17.8 billion. Most of the reduction was due to the ending of the space shuttle program; NASA’s science programs rose nearly 3%, to $5.1 billion.

The Department of...

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