Government Printing Office employee Don Bowman feeds copies of President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget through a binding machine in Washington, D.C., on April 8. (Thomas Brown / Federal Times)
Highlights of major agencies’ 2014 budget requests. Discretionary spending figures — from Office of Management and Budget budget summary tables — compare the 2014 budget requests with 2012 actual budgets, which more closely reflect agencies’ actual funding in 2013 under the continuing resolution than do the 2013 budget requests.
The department faces a $1.5 billion drop in discretionary funding compared with last year, with crop subsidies and home loans on the chopping block.
Overall, USDA is proposing discretionary funding of $21.5 billion this year compared to $23.0 billion last year and $23.7 billion in 2012.
The budget proposes a little more than $1 billion for meat, egg and poultry inspection, roughly the same as this year’s funding level. On the revenue side, the department is proposing a performance-based user fee, where meat, egg and poultry processing plants pay extra if inspected products fail to meet standards or if they require additional inspection because of noncompliance.
The budget for upkeep of roads, trails and USDA facilities is taking a hit. The administration requests $328 million for the capital budget, a $67.7 million decrease. Still, the department is moving forward with plans on a $155 million project for a poultry lab in Athens, Ga.
The budget proposes more than $500 million in cuts for a direct single-family loan program. The administration says rural “pockets of need” aren’t as pervasive as they used to be. USDA wants to reduce direct federal loans in favor of private banking industry loans guaranteed by the government.
The budget plan also calls for $37.8 billion in cuts by eliminating direct farm loans over the next 10 years, saying the farm sector is one of the strongest sectors in the economy.
Other cuts include a combined $21 million from reductions in economic impact grants, discretionary conservation programs and high energy cost grants.
The budget would increase the Commerce Department’s discretionary spending by about $1 billion compared with 2012.
The $8.6 billion spending plan includes funding to create up to 15 manufacturing institutes across the U.S., as well as $2 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellites.
The Census Bureau would get a $154 million increase for research and testing to improve the 2020 Census.
There were also cuts, however. While its overall budget would increase 14 percent from 2012 to $520 million, the International Trade Administration would lose 22 full-time employees and reduce funds for industry outreach activities such as conferences, business roundtables and seminars.
“Overall, this budget proposes targeted investments that will enable us to carry out our responsibility to help grow American businesses and the economy, while also spending federal dollars wisely,” Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a statement.
The department is planning to cut its civilian workforce by about 5 to 6 percent — between 40,000 and 50,000 positions — by the end of 2018, Defense Comptroller Robert Hale said Wednesday.
The department estimates it will have roughly 777,000 civilian employees at the end of fiscal 2013, and it will cut their ranks to about 765,000 next year, he said.
Many of the civilian cuts would be tied to a future round of base closures, which Hale said would allow Defense to consolidate its underutilized infrastructure.
The White House’s proposed 2014 budget calls for another Base Realignment and Closure round in 2015, although it said the process of closing bases would not begin until 2016 to allow the economy more time to recover.
The Pentagon also plans to consolidate military health care facilities as part of a broader restructuring, which Hale said would also allow it to cut its civilian ranks. The planned end of the war in Afghanistan will also allow Defense to reduce its civilian ranks.
“I would hope that given the time to prepare, that we could do this through attrition,” Hale said. “But we aren’t far along enough to really know for sure as to how we’d do it.”
The Defense Department may offer early retirements to civilians and temporarily suspend hiring to reduce their ranks.
The department’s proposed $655.4 billion topline budget — a 5 percent reduction from fiscal 2012 levels — includes $167 billion for weapons systems. Defense wants to spend $8.4 billion to continue the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and $5.4 billion for the Virginia-class submarine. The budget also calls for upgrading the C-130 transport aircraft, the F-15 fighter, and the Stryker combat vehicle. Defense also wants to spend $653 million on advanced communication satellites.
Discretionary spending would decline 5 percent to $615.1 billion, down from $645.5 billion in 2012. That includes a 23 percent decline in overseas contingency operations funding to $88.5 billion, down from $115.1 billion in 2012.
The department would fare relatively well, with proposed discretionary funding of $71.2 billion, up 6 percent from 2012 levels.
The request’s most noteworthy feature is a proposed consolidation of 90 science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) programs that currently sprawl across 11 agencies. Under the administration’s plan, those programs would be compressed into four categories in hopes of getting a better return on taxpayers’ money: K-12 instruction; undergraduate education; graduate fellowships; and education activities that typically take place outside the classroom. Together with the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution, the department would share in almost $180 million in redirected funds; its roles would include supporting a corps of “master teachers” to help improve STEM education.
Elsewhere in the request, a big gainer would be “Promise Neighborhoods,” a three-year-old program that steers grants to nonprofit groups that work with children and schools in particularly poor communities. Under the request, program funding would soar from $60 million in 2012 to $300 million. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, another initiative that targets students in high-need schools, would get a more modest 13 percent boost to $1.3 billion.
The administration is also reviving last year’s proposal for a $1 billion competitive grant program to encourage public colleges to lower costs and increase student graduation rates. The proposal is modeled on Race to the Top, which provides grants to states to turn around low-performing K-12 schools and make other improvements at the elementary and secondary levels.
Race to the Top would get $545 million, down more than 22 percent from the 2012 level.
The Pell Grant program for college students would receive a 2 percent increase to $34.9 billion.
The administration is also seeking a new approach to setting interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans, which are scheduled to double this summer to 6.8 percent. Under the administration proposal, interest rates for Stafford loans would more closely follow market rates, which are currently low.
Discretionary spending in 2014 would grow almost 8 percent to $28.4 billion, up from $26.4 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:
$11.7 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a $700 million increase. That includes nearly $7.9 billion for maintaining and upgrading nuclear weapons storage facilities and maintaining nuclear weapons.
$379 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a $104 million increase to research advanced energy technologies.
Environmental Protection Agency
The $8.2 billion budget proposal sets aside more money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but cuts overall spending by about $300 million compared with 2012.
EPA would lose about 200 full-time positions, bringing staffing to 16,870, the lowest level level in two decades.
“Our request takes a balanced approach to funding the agency, including increased investments in more efficient technologies as well as necessary program eliminations or reductions,” said acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe in a statement.
He added, however, the spending also considers the “difficult fiscal situation” of state, local and tribal programs.
The budget trims about $54 million from EPA’s environmental education, clean automotive technology, SunWise and Greener Economy programs. The agency also wants to eliminate a beach monitoring program, saving about $9.9 million.
However, the budget includes $176.5 million for climate change initiatives, an $8.1 million increase since 2012.
The agency also boosted funding for state and tribal grants to a little more than $1.1 billion, a $47.5 million increase over 2012.
General Services Administration
GSA’s federal building fund would grow to nearly $9.6 billion under the president’s 2014 budget plan, up from $8.9 billion in 2013. The budget requests more than $2.1 billion for dozens of construction and renovation projects, a dramatic increase over previous years.
GSA would receive $816 million for new construction, up from $56 million in 2013; and $1.3 billion for renovations, up from $280 million in 2013.
The budget provides $261 million for the Department of Homeland Security headquarters consolidation project in southeast Washington and $94 million for the consolidation of FBI operations in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The budget also provides for $35 million in energy and water retrofit and conservation measures.
Health and Human Services
The discretionary budget would hold steady at $78.3 billion, according to OMB summary tables. Total budget authority, which includes discretionary and mandatory spending such as Medicare and Medicaid, would increase nearly 9 percent from $874.5 billion to $949.9 billion.
The budget proposes continued funding of the 2010 health care reform law, including funding for online health insurance marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance, starting Oct. 1. The department plans to spend $1.5 billion in 2014 to support the marketplaces.
“As this act is fully implemented … I’m hopeful that Congress will see that this is the law of the land,” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
The budget would provide $130 million for a new initiative to expand mental health treatment and prevention services, of which $55 million would fund mental health first aid training in schools and communities to better service students with mental health issues. The initiative also includes $50 million to train 5,000 new mental health professionals, such as counselors, social workers and psychologists.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive $10 million to fund research on the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it.
And funding for the Food and Drug Administration would increase $821 million above 2012 levels to improve food and drug import safety.
The budget would provide $26 million for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT efforts to expand adoption of electronic health records.
The department plans to spend $810 million to strengthen federal computing system defenses from cyber attacks and to help the private sector protect critical cyber infrastructure.
It also plans to add nearly 1,600 Customs and Border Protection officers to speed up processing at U.S. ports of entry. And it plans to spend $714 million to develop a state-of-the-art research lab to develop countermeasures for diseases that could spread from animals to humans.
Overall, however, the discretionary budget would decline about 2 percent to $39.0 billion, down from $39.9 billion in 2012.
The budget would cut $1.3 billion from administrative expenses and streamline professional services.
Housing and Urban Development
HUD’s net discretionary funding of $33.1 billion would be a 9 percent decline from 2012. But because the department gets money from other sources not included in the OMB’s summary table, its total funding would actually jump almost 10 percent to $47.6 billion. Of that total, more than three-quarters—or $37.4 billion—would go toward rental housing assistance.
The Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps low-income families afford decent accommodations, would receive $20 billion; the Project-Based Rental Assistance program, which aims to keep rental housing affordable, would get $10.3 billon.
The administration would also pump up spending to reduce homelessness as funding for Homeless Assistance Grants would rise to $2.4 billion, a 25 increase over 2012. Another favored initiative is Choice Neighborhoods, a program that funnels money to developers, nonprofits and local governments to revitalize poor communities. Its funding would more than double to $400 million.
Not so fortunate is the venerable Community Development Block Grant program that gives state and local governments money for sewer and other infrastructure projects. CDBG funding, which has declined significantly in recent years, would be cut another 13 percent to $2.8 billion. Also taking a repeat hit would be the HOME Investment Partnerships program for affordable housing rehabilitation. After absorbing a $600 million budget reduction in 2012, HOME would be cut another 5 percent next year to $950 million.
The federal government plans to spend at least $62.8 billion on its intelligence next year. The White House proposes spending $48.2 billion for the non-Defense National Intelligence Program (NIP) and another $14.6 billion for the Military Intelligence Program, not counting any additional funds for overseas contingencies like the operations in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon said the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding request will come later.
The proposed figure for the non-Defense National Intelligence Program would be a cut of nearly 11 percent from its fiscal 2012 levels.
In fiscal 2012, the Military Intelligence Program spent $21.5 billion, including both the base budget and war zone operations.
The proposed budget calls for scaling back the intelligence community’s contractor workforce, and winding down lower-priority programs. The non-Defense intelligence agencies would maintain current employee levels and focus “on sustaining the skills in the current IC [intelligence community] workforce that have been developed over the past decade.”
But it is unlikely the ranks of intelligence employees will expand, as the budget also calls for “curtailing personnel growth.”
And programs that are not performing, or that have been judged to be lower priorities, will be reduced or shut down entirely.
“The NIP budget reflects a deliberative process to ensure that the IC focuses on those programs that have the most significant return,” the budget said.
The intelligence community seeks to keep waging war on al Qaida and other violent terrorist organizations, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, identify and disrupt counterintelligence threats, and warn government leaders about emerging problems around the world.
The intelligence community also plans to modernize its information technology infrastructure to improve information sharing and collaboration. The budget calls for saving money by consolidating duplicate IT systems, improving energy efficiency and reducing non-mission critical travel.
Discretionary funding would total $11.7 billion, up 4 percent from 2012. Total budget authority would rise more modestly from $11.5 billion to $12.0 billion
The department’s U.S. Geological Survey would see a big boost — itsfunding would rise about 8.5 percent to almost $1.2 billion. Energy-related programs also would benefit; they would receive about $772 million, a 14 percent increase from 2012.
Funding for the Wildland Fire Management program, a closely watched priority for members of Congress from Western states, would jump by about one-third to $776.9 million. Funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service would be $1.6 billion, up 5 percent from 2012.
Other programs would get much smaller increases or take cuts. The National Park Service would get about a 2 percent increase to $2.6 billion. The Bureau of Indian Affairs would also get about $2.6 billion, which represents a 1 percent boost over 2012. The $1 billion proposed budget for the Bureau of Reclamation would represent a 3 percent decline.
The White House is proposing $395 million in new spending on programs to decrease gun violence.
The department’s proposed 2014 budget includes $173 million above 2012 levels to conduct more background checks, increase inspections of federally licensed firearms dealers, improve tracing and ballistics analysis, and prevent criminals and other dangerous people from getting their hands on guns.
It also calls for $222 million more to help state and local governments fight gun violence. That would include $150 million for a school safety program and $55 million in grants to improve the submission of state criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, among other proposals.
The FBI would get a $183 million increase over 2012 levels, bringing its budget to nearly $8.3 billion in 2014. And federal prisons would get a 4 percent increase over 2012 levels, bringing their funding to $8.6 billion. This would provide additional beds to reduce crowding in low-security prisons, and allow Justice to continue activating newly built or acquired prisons.
But the proposed budget also would cut Justice’s topline budget to $30.5 billion, 3 percent below 2012 levels. Discretionary spending would decline 39 percent to $16.3 billion, according to OMB’s summary table. Justice provided no explanation for the decline.
Justice plans to zero out budget authority for the National Drug Intelligence Center, which received $20 million in budget authority in 2012. Lawmakers tried to kill NDIC for years, but the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., whose district included NDIC, fought those attempts. Congress was only able to shut down NDIC after Murtha died in 2010. It officially closed last June.
Funding for Justice’s assets forfeiture fund would shrink from $4 billion in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2014. And the total budget authority for Justice’s information sharing technology program would be cut nearly in half, from $110 million in 2012 to $56 million in 2014.
Discretionary spending would decrease 8 percent from $13.2 billion in 2012 to $12.1 billion.
The budget proposes $150 million for a competitive Workforce Innovation Fund, which provides grants for states and local entities to test new strategies that improve employment and training services for job seekers and potential employers.
The budget would streamline job training and employment services for displaced workers through the Universal Displaced Worker program. The program would better personalize services to meet individuals’ needs and provide a single place for displaced workers to access services. The program is expected to serve up to 1 million people a year.
The department is teaming with the Education Department to oversee an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund to strengthen relationships between community colleges and businesses that may employ graduating students.
The budget includes proposals to reform workers’ compensation programs under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act. The programs cover civilian employees and contractors who are injured or killed while working on military bases and public works projects overseas.
The reforms would provide Labor with additional tools and allow the department to recapture compensation costs from trusted third parties. Labor expects the reforms will save more than $500 million over 10 years.
The $17.7 billion budget proposes protecting the planet from an asteroid attack and sending humans to Mars within a few decades, but it’s setting aside less money for education next year.
The budget, which is down about $50 million compared with 2012, includes plans to identify, capture, redirect and sample a small asteroid.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the agency would use existing technologies such as the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System rocket, as well as new solar and laser communication technologies.
“This asteroid initiative brings together the best of NASA’s science, technology and human exploration efforts to achieve the president’s goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025,” Bolden said in announcing the budget. The agency also wants to send humans to Mars by 2030.
While Bolden said the initiatives would stimulate job growth, budget documents also show NASA reducing the size of its 17,700-civilian workforce by more than 250 positions.
NASA’s education budget drops from $136 million in 2012 to $94 million in 2014.
The agency’s watchdog Office of Inspector General also will see its budget decrease from $38 million to $37 million.
Social Security Administration
The agency would see a 1 percent increase in discretionary spending to $9.1 billion . Total budget authority would increase to $926.7 billion in 2012, up 12 percent from $826 billion.
The budget proposes dedicated funding for the agency’s Continuing Disability Reviews and Supplemental Security Income Redeterminations, which ensure that Social Security disability benefits are paid only to those who qualify. A lack of funding for the program has led to a backlog of more than 1.3 million disability claims awaiting review to determine if recipients are still eligible.
Overall, SSA’s budget would provide $1.2 billion for “program integrity” initiatives, such as the disability reviews.
SSA expects to handle more than 5.4 million retirement, survivors, and Medicare claims and 2.9 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income initial disability claims in 2014.
State’s budget request represents a 2 percent decrease to $51.9 billion, down from $52.8 billion in 2012. The decline is largely due to what State calls “extraordinary costs” of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will fall from $11.2 billion in 2012 to $3.8 billion for 2014.
The department proposes $4 billion to secure overseas personnel and facilities, including raising embassy security construction to $2.2 billion.
It also proposes:
$6.8 billion, an increase of about $100 million, in assistance to be split among Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
$909 million in new spending to help combat climate change and to support the development of environmentally friendly technology.
Strengthening the authority of the chief information officer in order to better manage information technology spending and projects.
The budget proposal includes a $50 billion investment to improve roads, bridges, railways, runways and other critical infrastructure projects nationwide.
That significant investment would account for much of the department’s 81 percent increase in its topline budget. The White House is proposing $127.1 billion in topline budget authority, up from $70.1 billion in 2012. Discretionary spending would increase 1 percent to $16.3 billion.
As part of that $50 billion, Transportation wants to spend $40 billion on a “Fix-It-First” program President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address this year. That program would focus on the most urgently needed infrastructure repairs in the country, such as 70,000 dangerously weakened bridges. The remaining $10 billion would help state and local governments develop their infrastructure.
The budget also proposes nearly $1 billion in 2014 for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, a massive project that will update the nation’s air traffic control system. NGATS would replace the current ground based radar air traffic system with a more accurate satellite-based system.
And Transportation’s budget calls for money to hire more federal pipeline safety inspectors. Transportation now has 135 inspectors responsible for inspecting 2.6 million miles of pipeline and investigating explosions. The budget calls for more than doubling their ranks over several years, although it did not say exactly how many inspectors it wants, and how long the hiring period would last.
The budget proposal also calls for spending $40 billion over five years on developing high-speed rail.
The department’s overall discretionary funding would rise 2 percent to $13.3 billion, mostly for the benefit of the Internal Revenue Service.
The government’s chief tax collector — and by far the department’s biggest component — would get nearly $12.9 billion, or about $1 billion more than in 2012. A large chunk of that money would go for a “program integrity” boost that the administration argues is justified by the high return on investment generated by added spending on tax enforcement. But funding for the IRS’ business systems modernization program, intended to put tax data on an up-to-date technology platform, would fall about 9 percent to $301 million.
Other parts of Treasury would cumulatively take a 2 percent cut.
Under the proposed budget, Treasury would also get responsibility for running and expanding USASpending.gov, the governmentwide website launched in 2007 to track the flow of federal money to contractors and other recipients. Members of Congress and watchdog groups have repeatedly criticized the accuracy of the site’s data; giving Treasury control would capitalize on the department’s “extensive financial expertise,” the budget request says.
The proposed $63.5 billion discretionary budget would be an increase of 8 percent from $58.7 billion in 2012. Total budget authority would jump from $124.0 billion to $149.5 billion, a 21 percent increase.
The budget proposes $136 million to fund the Veterans Claims Intake program, which includes funds to implement VA’s paperless claims processing system. Specifically, the department aims to process claims within 125 days and with 98 percent accuracy by 2015.
Overall information technology spending would jump about 20 percent to $3.9 billion.
“This IT increase is a critical component to eliminating the [claims] backlog,” Todd Grams, VA’s chief financial officer, said at the department’s budget briefing.
Other key IT investments include a significant increase in funding for the integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR) program — from $68.8 million in 2012 to $251.9 million. Despite sharp criticism from lawmakers following programmatic changes by the VA and Defense Department secretaries, VA’s acting Chief Information Officer Stephen Warren stressed the departments are committed to building a single, integrated health records system. The system will manage service members’ and veterans’ health records throughout their lives.
Part of the $252 million will be used to develop a single online portal for vets to access their health and benefits records. An additional $120.2 million will support VA’s Veterans Relationship Management (VRM) initiative to enhance veterans’ access to the department’s online services.
The proposed budget also includes:
$799 million for new construction and renovation projects that are underway.
$54.6 billion for veterans’ medical care, including mental health care, expanded use of telehealth technologies and care for women veterans.
$1.4 billion to combat veteran homelessness.
Nicole Blake Johnson, Stephen Losey, Jim McElhatton, Andy Medici and Sean Reilly contributed to this story.