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The 2013 budget request: agency by agency

Feb. 13, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By FEDERAL TIMES STAFF   |   Comments
Staff assistant Kathleen Llewellyn-Butts of the Senate Budget Committee unloads copies of the president's FY2013 budget request to congressional staff Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C.
Staff assistant Kathleen Llewellyn-Butts of the Senate Budget Committee unloads copies of the president's FY2013 budget request to congressional staff Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. (Thomas Brown / Staff)

Highlights of major agencies' 2013 budget requests:

Agriculture

The department, which started closing 260 offices this year, plans to further use early retirement and buyouts to eliminate 900 more positions in 2013. Budget cuts forced officials to offer buyouts to 544 employees in 2011, and allow other eligible employees to take early retirement.

Discretionary spending would decrease to $21.4 billion in 2013, a $600 million or nearly 3 percent decline from $22.0 billion in 2012.

However, overall budget authority, which includes mandatory outlays for programs such as nutrition assistance for low-income families, is proposed to increase to $154.7 billion, up $7.2 billion, or nearly 5 percent, from $147.5 billion.

The department also proposes continued reductions in direct payments to farmers and subsidies to crop insurance companies, which are expected to save $32 billion over 10 years.

"That safety net is going to change but we're still going to have one," Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a budget briefing.

The budget includes $6.1 billion in loans to rural electric cooperatives and utilities for projects that promote renewable and "clean" energy at electric generation, transmission and distribution sites in rural communities.

Commerce

Discretionary spending would increase to $8.0 billion, up about $300 million or about 4 percent from $7.7 billion in 2012. Total budget authority would increase to $9.2 billion, up $1.2 billion or 15 percent from $8.0 billion in 2012.

Funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology would increase 13 percent to $860 million, up from $761 million, to accelerate research in areas such as robotics, nanotechnology and cybersecurity.

As proposed in the American Jobs Act, the budget includes $10 billion for a National Wireless Initiative to help build a public safety broadband network to give first responders modern and efficient communications capabilities.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive more than $5 billion, an increase of $160 million, to support weather and climate satellite programs and the agency's core responsibilities for environmental science.

The budget would reduce funding for Economic Development Administration grant programs, such as the Public Works program and the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund, by $38 million because these overlap with programs in other agencies. The department also proposed $34 million in administrative cost savings.

"In some cases, these changes will both modernize our operational structure and save money," said acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank. "In other cases, we simply had to decide which programs were most central to our core missions in each bureau."

Defense

The Pentagon would receive nearly $614 billion in discretionary funds in 2013, including $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan. That would represent a nearly $32 billion, or 5 percent, decline from 2012.

Most of the decline would come in war spending, which this year is projected to top $115 billion and would drop 23 percent in 2013. The proposed base discretionary budget authority of $525 billion, which excludes war spending, would be a 1 percent decline from 2012.

The Defense Department plans to cut 7,500 civilian employees from its ranks, or 1 percent, which would bring it down to 756,800 civilians.

In its budget request, Defense pledged to reform its contracting processes to increase efficiency. The Pentagon said it would use fewer high-risk contracts based on labor hours and time and materials, keep developing contracting specialists to provide better oversight, reduce spending on management support services, and take other steps. Defense plans to spend $280 billion on all contracts next fiscal year.

The Pentagon also wants to continue consolidating its numerous data centers to reduce its staffing and energy needs.

The White House asked for two more rounds of base realignment and closure, or BRAC, to help cut the Defense Department's infrastructure.

And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants the department to save money by becoming more energy-efficient. The budget calls for $1 billion in energy conservation investments, such as renovating old buildings to be more energy efficient, meeting higher efficiency standards for new buildings and developing renewable energy projects. This energy initiative would be more than double the $400 million Defense budgeted for it in 2010.

Education

The department would get $69.8 billion in discretionary spending, up from this year's $67.4 billion.

The Education and Labor departments would join forces to create an $8 billion job training initiative through partnerships among businesses, states and community colleges.

Also new is a proposed $1 billion competitive grant program intended to encourage public colleges to lower costs and increase student graduation rates. The proposal is modeled on the Race to the Top program, which offers grants to states to turn around low-performing K-12 schools and make other improvements at the elementary and secondary levels. This year, Race to the Top took a congressionally imposed 21 percent budget cut to $549 million; the administration proposes an increase to $850 million in 2013.

Many other programs, however, would receive only modest boosts or get the same amount of money as this year, while funding for such efforts as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research take slight cuts. Interest rates for subsidized Stafford student loans, set to rise this summer to 6.8 percent, would remain at 3.4 percent, under the budget request.

Administration officials are also continuing a push to revamp the department's K-12 program structure. Two years ago, the administration proposed consolidating 38 programs into 11. While Congress has since ended funding for 22 of those programs, lawmakers have left the old structure in place.

Energy

Discretionary spending in 2013 would grow 3 percent to $27.1 billion over $26.3 billion in 2012.

Much of the increase would be paid for by eliminating $4 billion in tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.

The request includes:

$11.5 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a $500 million increase. That includes $7.6 billion for maintaining and upgrading nuclear weapons storage facilities an increase of $363 million

$350 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a $75 million increase to research advanced energy technologies.

Total budget authority would be $32.3 billion, a 42 percent increase from $22.8 billion

Environmental Protection Agency

Discretionary spending would decrease to $8.3 billion, a cut of $200 million or 2 percent from $8.5 billion in 2012.

Among the largest reductions is a $359 million decrease to state revolving funds that help finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. EPA plans to target the $2 billion budgeted for state revolving funds in 2013 to small and underserved communities with limited ability to repay loans.

EPA also proposes a $33 million reduction in the Hazardous Substance Superfund Remedial program, specifically cutting activities that focused on long-term remediation goals.

Another $50 million would be saved by eliminating underperforming programs or programs that overlap with other federal agencies, such as the Clean Automotive Technologies program.

The department proposes spending $36 million to expand an electronic pollutant reporting system so EPA inspectors and companies could submit electronic reports about chemicals in the air and water and share that information with the public quickly, said Administrator Lisa Jackson.

"We want to incorporate advances in monitoring that allow communities to understand not only what's being emitted by a plant but what it means to the air quality in the immediate community surrounding that plant," Jackson said.

General Services Administration

GSA's federal building fund would grow to $8.6 billion under the president's 2013 budget plan, up from $8.0 billion in 2012. But the budget underfunds GSA's efforts to consolidate employees at the Department of Homeland Security in Southeast Washington and the Food and Drug Administration's White Oak campus in Silver Spring, Md.

GSA would receive $56 million for new construction, up from $50 million in 2012 but down from $894 million in 2010.

GSA and DHS would need at least $460 million in 2013 to avoid any further delays and cost overruns, according to DHS estimates obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. DHS would receive only $89 million for the consolidation efforts in 2013.

GSA's budget request also includes $494 million for repairs and renovations of federal buildings it owns, up 76 percent from $280 million in 2012.

Health and Human Services

The department's discretionary budget would drop 8 percent to $71.7 billion from $78.3 billion. Total budget authority, which includes discretionary and mandatory spending such as Medicare and Medicaid, would increase to $921.6 billion, up 4 percent from $888.9 billion.

The budget would fund implementation of the 2010 health care reform law, including the creation of state insurance exchanges where people can shop for health insurance. Funding would provide the infrastructure and needed systems to help people select the right coverage.

The National Institutes of Health would receive flat funding for biomedical research, or $31 billion. Next year, NIH will overhaul the way it manages grants to increase the amount of new research grants and awards by 7 percent.

Funding for the Food and Drug Administration would increase by $654 million to improve food and drug import safety.

The budget would overhaul and cut funding for HHS' Community Services Block Grant by $329 million because "the program's current structure does too little to hold these agencies accountable for outcomes."

Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Department would see a slight decline less than 1 percent in its discretionary budget under the president's 2013 budget request. The 2013 request is for $39.5 billion, down from $39.7 billion in 2012. Total budget authority would drop to $45.1 billion, a 5 percent decline from $47.7 billion.

The department plans to add nearly 1,200 employees at the Transportation Security Administration for baggage and cargo screening and airport security.

DHS will also spend $769 million to improve cybersecurity and to enhance its cybersecurity outreach to state and local governments.

The agency would receive $89 million to fund its headquarters consolidation efforts at the former St. Elizabeths Hospital complex in Washington far short of the $460 million it has estimated it would need in 2013 to avoid further delays and cost overruns, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The department projected in December that budget cuts would delay the completion date five years to the end of fiscal 2021. Only the Coast Guard headquarters is on schedule for completion in spring 2013.

The DHS budget would also cut $853 million from travel, overtime pay and fleet management.

Housing and Urban Development

Total funding for HUD programs would rise 3 percent to almost $44.8 billion, but that figure masks a mixture of winners and losers within the department's far-flung operations.

Among the gainers would be the program providing rental help to low-income families, which would get a 4 percent increase to about $19.1 billion. That extra money would help pay for 10,000 new housing vouchers targeted to homeless veterans. Homeless assistance grants would also get a boost, from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

Not faring as well would be the Community Development Fund, which would be pared from $3.3 billion this year to $3.1 billion in 2013. If Congress goes along with the request, that would mean a cumulative 10 percent reduction since 2011, when the fund, which covers Community Development Block Grants and other programs, received $3.5 billion. Future CDBG funding, however, would stay at this year's $3.0 billion threshold, according to the administration.

After absorbing a $600 million cut in the 2012 budget, the HOME program would also be level-funded next year at $1.0 billion. That program channels money into affordable housing rehabilitation.

The White House's request includes changes to rental assistance programs that are supposed to save more than $500 million next year without reducing the number of families served. Reforms include capping yearly subsidy increases for some properties and increasing the minimum monthly rent to $75 for all HUD-assisted households, a figure that the administration says is comparable to the 1998 level adjusted for inflation.

Interior

Another lean year looms, with total discretionary funding rising about 1 percent to $11.4 billion in comparison with this year's $11.3 billion.

Two of the department's largest organizations, the National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, would basically be level-funded at $2.6 billion and $2.5 billion respectively. The Fish and Wildlife Service's funding would increase almost 5 percent increase to $1.5 billion, while the Bureau of Land Management would receive a 4 percent increase to $1.1 billion. Funding for the U.S. Geological Survey would rise 3 percent, also to about $1.1 billion.

Overall construction funding would drop 16 percent to $256 million, with the available money funneled toward "highest priority" health, safety and mission critical projects, according to the department. But several other programs would see double-digit percentage boosts. The budget for wildland fire management would increase 42 percent to $818 million; funding for the Land and Water Conservation program would jump 39 percent to $322 million. Also coming out ahead would be renewable energy programs, which would see a 21 percent increase to $86 million.

The department's budget request also highlights proposed steps to get "a better return" on mineral and mining development on public lands. Those ideas include charging a royalty on gold and other hardrock minerals, and establishing fees for new, non-producing oil and gas leases to encourage production.

Justice

Prison operations and financial fraud investigations and prosecutions will be some of the biggest winners under the proposed 2013 budget.

Justice is requesting $6.8 billion for the Bureau of Prisons, which would be a nearly 4 percent increase over $6.6 billion in 2012 and help it deal with an expected 6,500-inmate increase in the prison population next year. Detention operations would be increased by $88 million to about $1.7 billion. Justice plans to add 854 new positions to the Bureau of Prisons next year, including 406 new guards.

And Justice wants $55 million more to fight financial and mortgage fraud, an 8 percent increase over roughly $700 million in 2012.

But Justice's discretionary budget would remain essentially flat at $27.1 billion in 2013. That would be about $100 million, or 0.4 percent, less than the 2012 budget. Justice is cutting nearly $197 million through information technology savings, cutting construction and reducing office space, and other administrative and operational efficiencies.

About $12 million of those 2013 savings will come from shutting down the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa., and rolling its core duties into the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus said that 57 of NDIC's roughly 140 employees will be moved to DEA to keep performing document and electronic evidence analysis function and other intelligence reporting duties.

The remaining 83 employees will have to leave Justice if they cannot find jobs elsewhere in the department, and they will be offered buyouts and early retirements. Jolene Lauria Sullens, Justice's controller and deputy assistant attorney general, said the offers will be made within the next few weeks.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Justice could offer other buyouts and early retirements, though he would not discuss details.

Justice plans to save another $450 million through consolidations, realignments and one-time balance rescissions.

Justice's topline budget authority would be $30 billion in 2013.

Labor

Spending would drop 9 percent to $12.0 billion, down from $13.2 billion this year.

To cut costs, Labor plans to consolidate regional offices within the Women's Bureau, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of the Solicitor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Public Affairs. Also, several department components "have more regional offices than they need to be effective," Labor said, without naming the offices.

The cuts are "not expected to affect worker safety and health," officials said in a live web chat.

The budget would also terminate the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, which supports employment and training services for vets. Instead, Labor would provide services through a $125 million joint fund with the Education Department. The Workforce Innovation Fund would provide competitive grants to bolster job training and innovation at the state and local levels.

The budget would provide $12.5 billion for the Pathways Back to Work Fund, an initiative that supports temporary and permanent jobs for low-income youth, subsidized employment for low-income adults and other efforts.

Top-line spending would drop 36 percent to $89.0 billion, down from $138.4 billion in 2012.

NASA

NASA's 2013 budget proposal is $17.7 billion, a reduction of about $100 million, or less than 1 percent, from 2012.

The budget lacks funding needed for NASA to participate in European Space Agency-led missions to Mars that were supposed to launch an orbiter in 2016 and two rovers in 2018, Administrator Charles Bolden said Monday. However, NASA missions currently underway, including the Mars Science Laboratory rover and MAVEN spacecraft, will further research of the Red Planet, Bolden said. The goal is to send humans to Mars in the mid-2030s, he said.

NASA plans to invest almost $3 billion in 2013 to continue development of the heavy-lift rocket and the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle, with an uncrewed test flight planned for as early as 2017 and a crewed flight as early as 2021.

Another $3 billion is budgeted for at least three flights to deliver research and logistics hardware to the International Space Station by U.S.-developed cargo delivery systems.

The budget also proposes $628 million for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble, which is expected to launch in 2018.

Social Security Administration

SSA's discretionary budget would increase 2 percent to $9.0 billion, up from $8.8 billion this year. Total budget authority would increase 7 percent to $885.3 billion, up from $829.9 billion.

SSA would face a 3 percent cut of 2,000 employees, leaving the agency with 63,400 employees.

To offset proposed staff reductions and lower SSA's disability claims backlog, the budget would support video conferencing technology to host disability appeal hearings virtually. SSA would also put more services online.

The agency expects to hear about 960,000 cases in 2013.

SSA would invest $1 billion in its "program integrity" initiatives, in part to complete more than 650,000 reviews to ensure benefits are paid only to those who qualify.

State

State's discretionary spending would increase 2 percent to $51.6 billion compared to $50.8 billion in 2012. The figure includes the costs of ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan contained in a separate overseas contingency operations account.

State plans to reduce its spending on management support services contracts by up to 15 percent below fiscal 2010 levels. It also plans to reduce travel, printing and related costs next year to below 2010 levels.

The budget also calls for $800 million in new aid to countries in North Africa and the Middle East to support political and economic reform.

Transportation

The department's 2013 request of $13.8 billion would be a $7 million increase, essentially flat from 2012 levels.

But the Obama administration is planning a massive investment in transportation infrastructure in 2012 and 2013. The total budget authority for 2013 would be $74.3 billion.

The White House wants to spend $50 billion in 2012 on improving roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings, railways and runways. And Obama proposes a six-year, $476 billion surface reauthorization plan beginning in 2013 to modernize the country's transportation infrastructure.

The White House plans to pay for those investments with money saved by winding down military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Transportation also wants to spend more than $1 billion on the Next Generation Air Transportation System in 2013. That would be about $99 million more than will be spent on the system this year. This project aims to replace the current ground-based radar system that tracks aircraft with a more accurate satellite-based system.

Treasury

Department programs face a 3 percent reduction next year, with one big exception: the IRS.

The tax-collecting agency, easily the department's biggest part, would enjoy an 8 percent increase from $11.8 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2013. The administration argues that the "program integrity" boost is justified by a five-fold return in revenue raised for every dollar invested in tax enforcement. Along the same lines, the budget request continues "significant investment" in the IRS' Business Systems Modernization program, intended to put tax data on an up-to-date technology platform. For 2012, however, Congress balked at increasing the IRS' budget, instead cutting it by more than $300 million.

Other Treasury organizations would get roughly what they are receiving this year or face reductions. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network would be cut 8 percent, from $111 million this year to $102 million in 2013, while spending for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau would be trimmed 3 percent to $97 million. To save money on overhead, the administration is proposing consolidation of the Bureau of the Public Debt and the Financial Management Service into the department's Fiscal Service. Besides increasing efficiency, that consolidation will strengthen Treasury's leadership on federal financial management issues, the request says.

The administration is also proposing a $61 billion "financial crisis responsibility fee" that would be imposed on the nation's largest financial firms to compensate the public for the Wall Street bailout as well as to discourage "excessive risk taking."

The department's total discretionary budget authority would drop from $13.2 billion to $12.6 billion.

Veterans Affairs

VA's discretionary budget would increase 4 percent to $61.0 billion from $58.5 billion this year. Top-line funding would increase to $137.4 billion, up 11 percent from $124.2 billion.

VA projects it will receive 1.3 million claims for disability benefits but process 1.4 million claims. "In 2013 we will process more claims than we are receiving into the system," Todd Grams, VA's chief financial officer, said at VA's budget briefing.

Information technology would play a critical role in VA's efforts to tackle its claims backlog. VA's IT budget would see a $216 million increase to $3.3 billion. And VA's workforce would grow by 4,300 people to 306,600 employees.

The department expects to complete rollout of its Veterans Benefits Management System next year, Grams said. The budget would provide $128 million to fund the paperless claims processing system.

The proposed budget also includes:

$792 million to renovate and continue building new hospitals, including new medical centers in Las Vegas, Denver and Orlando, Fla.

$335 million to expand telehealth services to rural areas.

$403 million to improve women vets' access to services and treatment facilities.

schacko@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">Sarah Chacko, nblake@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">Nicole Blake Johnson, slosey@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">STEPHEN LOSEY, amedici@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">Andy Medici and sreilly@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">Sean Reilly contributed to this report.

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