President’s Budget Request Has Increases for Economic Statistical Agencies, Cuts for NIH and NSF

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) was released Monday, February 10, with a proposed modest increase for the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and US Census Bureau in recognition of “the importance of economic statistics to businesses and everyday citizens as they make informed decisions and confidently invest in America’s future,” according to the Office of Management and Budget report.

For research agencies, the Trump administration has proposed 7 percent cuts for both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). It has also proposed a major cut for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, along with its consolidation into NIH. The administration did, however, propose the doubling of research on quantum science and artificial intelligence, as further explained in a AAAS summary of research funding in the FY21 request.

The administration also proposed to decrease the budget for the Economic Research Service and is ramping down the budget for the US Census Bureau for the year following the decennial census.

Proposed changes for the Department of Education could fundamentally alter how statistics is handled at the agency. The administration requested the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) no longer be appointed by the US president but by a Department of Education official instead. It also proposes that NCES’s assessment responsibilities—which include the National Assessment of Educational Progress and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—be split off into a new National Center for Education Assessment.

The FY21 budget request also has components to support evidence-based policymaking, including through enactment of the Evidence Act and Federal Data Strategy. Nick Hart, executive director of the Data Coalition and an ASA member, has summarized these aspects in his post, “President’s 2021 Budget Includes Positive Signals for Data and Evidence Priorities.

The proposed BLS increase includes $7.1 million “to research the nature and construction of a potential consumption-based poverty measure and improve the Consumer Expenditure program in support of improved poverty measurement,” according to the FY 2021 Department of Labor Budget in Brief.

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