Status Report

NSF Office of Polar Programs Memo On FY 2009 Budget Issues

By SpaceRef Editor
August 20, 2008
Filed under , , ,
NSF Office of Polar Programs Memo On FY 2009 Budget Issues

To: U.S Antarctic Program grantees
Office of Polar Programs
National Science Foundation

August 18, 2008

Dear U.S. Antarctic Program Researcher:

All indications are that in FY 2009 (October 1 — September 30) the National Science Foundation will operate, at least until the new Congress and new Administration are in place next year, on a Continuing Resolution that fixes funding at the prior year’s level. That budget was, in turn, essentially identical to the previous year’s (FY 2007) budget. This means that the 2008-2009 austral summer season in Antarctica will be supported at the level it was in the 2006-2007 season.

To further compound the problem, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s fuel costs increased by $8 million for the 2007-2008 period and our guidance is to plan on a further increase of $19 million for the 2008-2009 season. Labor costs beyond our control, declines in the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar, and several other factors add to the pressure on our budget.

In light of this situation, we have had to make difficult decisions that will affect all parts of the Program. Examples include: deferring plans to replace the pier at Palmer Station as well as other facility improvements; reducing the intercontinental airlift (particularly in the middle of the operational season); deferring parts of logistically-intensive deep field projects, and consolidating science projects and reducing the length of cruises scheduled on the research vessels.

In addition, on-continent LC-130 operations will be significantly reduced and this, in turn, requires reductions and delays to a range of projects that require LC-130 support. While delays and reductions will be experienced this year, we are committed to eventually meet our existing commitments.

Lack of funding for research support and logistics also means we will not be able to sustain our normal rate of new-project funding this year. The overall proposal success rate will probably slip below 20%, and only a few new proposals requiring 2009 deployment are being funded. In addition, this situation is likely to cause a relatively low success rate for the proposals that are currently under review and would require field support in the 2009-2010 season.

A guiding principle in our approach to this difficult situation has been to leave open the possibility of reinstating activities should the FY 2009 budget be appropriated at the request level.

It is clear that this budget situation has significant impacts on the science program and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these difficult issues. Principal Investigators who are directly affected have already been contacted and are involved in specific discussions. Nevertheless, if you have ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact NSF program mangers or us directly.


Scott Borg
Division of Antarctic Sciences
Office of Polar Programs

Brian Stone
Director, Division of Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (Acting) NSF/OPP
Office of Polar Programs

SpaceRef staff editor.