The Senate passed a spending bill Oct. 31 that provides $22.75 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2020, but final agreement on funding for agency programs may still be weeks, if not months, away. On an 84–9 vote, the Senate approved a so-called “minibus” appropriations bill that combined several separate measures, including the commerce, justice and science (CJS) bill that funds NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation, among other agencies.
The announcement Tuesday of a nearly $1 billion federal commitment toward artificial-intelligence research drew a mixed response from business leaders who said the U.S. needs to do more to maintain a competitive edge in AI. Government agencies requested $973.5 million in nondefense AI research spending for the fiscal year ending in September 2020.
Speaking to chief information officers and other senior technology officials at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Mr. Johnson said the drop in federal research-and-development funding is one of the key drivers behind declines in U.S. productivity growth, which has averaged 1.3% a year for the past decade, down from 2.8% a year in the decades before 1970.
A key House panel has rejected the Trump administration’s plan to create Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. military focused on orbital operations. The proposal “leaves many unanswered questions and lacks important details and supporting analysis to justify the proposed size, scope, cost, roles, and authorities for the new military service,” members of the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee said in their report on the 2020 budget proposal.
NASA revealed Monday that it needs an additional $1.6 billion in funding for fiscal year 2020 to stay on track for a human return to the Moon by 2024. The space agency's budget amendment comes in addition to the $21 billion the Trump administration asked Congress for in March. In a teleconference with reporters on Monday evening, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the budget amendment was a "down payment" on what will be needed in future years to fund the program.
Funding for the National Science Foundation would drop 12 percent to just over $7 billion under President Trump’s latest budget request, near where it stood at the beginning of the Obama administration. The proposal distributes cuts relatively evenly across NSF’s research and education programs, while favoring work related to administration priorities such as quantum science and artificial intelligence.
The federal government is preparing to invest about $4.9 billion in unclassified artificial intelligence and machine learning-related research and development in fiscal 2020, according to budget documents released March 18. The number of AI-related programs has ballooned compared with fiscal 2019. Such rapid growth in AI investments, however, raises questions about whether the progress is organic or whether agencies are inflating their AI investments to improve their odds of receiving funding.
The $8.9 billion James Webb Space Telescope may be the last big-budget observatory that NASA launches for a while. The White House’s proposed 2020 budget cancels the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a $3.2 billion space mission viewed as a linchpin of astrophysics research through the 2020s and beyond.
Another year, another round of spending cuts; and, perhaps, another case of Congress riding to the rescue? The White House's budget request for the 2020 fiscal year, released today, once again seeks to scale back research programs across government, though most of the details will wait until next week. That's because the White House is issuing its annual proposal to Congress in phases, with only a 150-page budget overview released today.
Rocket science is easy. It's finding the funding for it that's hard. The Presidential Budget Request for NASA for the fiscal year 2020 is $21.019 billion -- higher than the FY2018 budget, and much higher than the lean years earlier this decade. At the same time, it also represents a 2.2% drop, nearly half a billion dollars, from the just-approved 2019 budget.