• Budget proposal cuts funds for nuclear nonproliferation programs

    The White House’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal includes more than $220 million in cuts for nuclear security initiatives such as the International Material Protection and Cooperationprogram, which aims to secure and eliminate vulnerable nuclear weapons and materials, and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which supports the Energy Department’s efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. The administration says that 54 percent of the reduction in the administration’s nonproliferation budget request can be accounted for by the decision to halt the South Carolina Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility(MOX), which would have convert weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel, because the project proved to be too costly.

  • $38.2 billion for DHS in FY2015 budget proposal; $1.25 billion in cyber funding

    The administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal, submitted to Congress on Tuesday, requests $38.2 billion in non-disaster funding for DHS, which is nearly a 3 percent reduction relative to FY 2014 allocation, but about the same as FY 2013. The proposal asks for about $1.25 billion – or 3 percent of the requested $38.2 billion – for cyber security funding, up from the $792 million in cybersecurity funding Congress approved for DHS in FY 2014. Of the $1.3 billion, about $1 billion will go for cyber initiatives, including funding for a new voluntary program for critical infrastructure companies and money to bolster civilian network security.

  • Proposed 2015 budget cuts funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs

    The Obama administration 2015 budget proposal shows that the administration will spend less on nuclear nonproliferation initiatives in 2015 than it would in 2014. The budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the agency responsible for various nuclear weapons and nuclear nonproliferation programs, will be cut by 20 percent, from the $1.9 billon Congress approved for fiscal 2014 — which in turn was a $289 million cut from fiscal 2013 levels — to $1.6 billion in 2015.

  • State lawmakers question Cuomo proposal for a homeland security college

    Governor Andrew Cuomo last month earmarked $15 million in his state budget proposal for what he called “the nation’s first college dedicated solely to emergency preparedness and homeland security.” State lawmakers are generally in support of investing more money in preparing the state for natural and man-made disasters, but some question whether a new college for homeland security is the answer.

  • Federal, state chemical safety agencies increasingly hampered by budget cuts

    The budgets of state and federal agencies tasked with responding to the Elk River chemical spill have recently been cut, and these cuts have limited these agencies’ ability to prevent or respond to disasters such as the water crisis in West Virginia. “We do less,” said a CDC financial official, when asked the results of cuts. “What [the CDC director] has often been quoted as saying is that threats are not going down and so it is concerning to not be able to grow with the public health threats.”

  • House approves $447 for Cyber Command

    The House of Representatives approved a fiscal 2014 stop-gap budget last Monday (it approved to full spending bill on Wednesday), which allocates $447 million to the Defense Department’s Cyber Command. This is more than twice the $191 million budget for Cyber Command in 2013.

  • House bill cuts $200 million from DHS headquarters project

    The House yesterday (Wednesday) approved a spending measure which would reduce funding for a new DHS headquarters in Southeast Washington by about $200 relative to the funds requested by the agencies overseeing that project for 2014. DHS, created in 2003, is the third largest government department, and it operates out of fifty different facilities located in Washington, D.C. and neighboring states. In 2008 Congress approved the establishment of a single DHS campus on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s, a former government-run mental hospital in Anacostia. The project has been hobbled by delays and cost overruns.

  • U.S. disaster preparedness threatened by funding problems

    The 9/11 attacks in New York City prompted large increases in government funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters. This funding, however, has fallen considerably since the economic crisis in 2008. Furthermore, disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient: huge cash infusions are disbursed right after a disaster, only to fall abruptly after interest wanes. These issues have exposed significant problems with our nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies. Researchers list seven recommendations to enhance preparedness for public health emergencies in the U.S.

  • Funding gap makes the high costs of research at universities more onerous

    Although more opportunity exists for university-based researchers to be innovative, and there is more financial support for innovation than ever before, the cost of university research is rising to new levels and presents a serious funding problem. The “real costs” of research — costs that include indirect costs — often extend far beyond support from a university’s central research office and are almost never covered by funding. As a result, the aggressive research agendas set by universities have costs that often outweigh the ultimate revenue universities hope to gain from research.

  • Thinking outside the box: Free public education that pays for itself

    A U.K. researcher proposes an innovative way to pay for college and graduate education: students would not pay for their education while at school. Rather, they will commit to paying a fixed percentage of their income (say, 6 percent) during their prime earning years (35-54, for example) to the university that awarded their degree. These student promises for a given university cohort will be bundled and sold to investors as “education securities.” Investors would receive a share of the average income for the cohort. Because average income moves with inflation, investors would be assured of getting their initial investment back plus whatever amount is necessary to cover changes in the value of their money. The securities could even be designed to include a real return (over inflation) of as much as 3 percent.

  • U.S. global share of biomedical research spending declines

    The U.S. global share of biomedical research spending fell from 51 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012, while Japan and China saw dramatic increases in research spending. The research and development spending in the United States dropped from $131 billion to $119 billion, when adjusted for inflation, from 2007 to 2012, while Japan increased spending by $9 billion and China increased by $6.4 billion. Overall, Asia’s share of spending grew from 18 percent to 24 percent. Europe held steady at 29 percent.

  • U.S. nuclear weapon programs to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO

    In its most recent review of U.S. nuclear policy, the Obama administration decided to maintain all three types of systems that can deliver nuclear weapons over long ranges — submarines that launch ballistic missiles (SSBNs), land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and long-range bombers — known collectively as the strategic nuclear triad. The administration also decided to preserve the ability to deploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons carried by fighter aircraft overseas in support of allies. Nearly all of these delivery systems and the nuclear weapons they carry are nearing the end of their planned operational lives and will need to be modernized or replaced by new systems over the next two decades. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that between 2014 and 2023, the costs of the administration’s plans for nuclear forces will total $355 billion.

  • How effective are renewable energy subsidies? It depends

    Renewable energy subsidies have led to explosive growth in wind power installations across the United States, especially in the Midwest and Texas. Electricity produced by wind is emission free, so the development of wind-power may reduce aggregate pollution by offsetting production from fossil fuel generated electricity production. Emission rates of fossil fuel generators, however, vary greatly by generator (coal-fired, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower). Thus, the quantity of emissions offset by wind power will depend crucially on which generators reduce their output. In other words, the quantity of pollutants offset by wind power depends crucially on which generators reduce production when wind power comes online.

  • Federal IT spending to exceed $11 billion by 2018

    A new report from Delteks, contracted spending on cybersecurity will continue to grow from nearly $9 billion in FY2013 to $11.4 billion in FY2018, driven by multiple initiatives aimed at improving the overall cybersecurity posture of federal agencies. Persistent threats, complex and evolving policy issues, and changing technologies highlight ongoing cyber-workforce shortages to drive investments despite constrained federal IT funding.

  • FY 2012 sees first constant-dollar decline in higher education R&D since FY 1974

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) says that university spending on R&D in all fields totaled $65.8 billion in FY 2012. After adjusting for inflation, higher education R&D declined by 1 percent in FY 2012. This represents the first constant-dollar decline since FY 1974 and ends a period of modest growth in higher education R&D during FYs 2009-11, when R&D expenditures increased an average of 5 percent each year.