Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some Good News, for Once

Lately I've become aware that PoH is turning into an endless parade of doom and despondency. Honestly, it's not intentional, but it seems that good news is in short supply at the moment. But when I do hear good news, I try to pass it on.

Anyway, here is some good news. NSCA reports that the President has requested a $36 million budget increase for the Smithsonian Institution (SI) in fiscal year (FY) 2011). If approved (OK, OK, so it's not entirely good news), SI would operate with approximately $797.6 million of federal funds. Within this amount, roughly $661 million (an increase of $27 million) would be allocated to Salaries and Expenses with the balance of $136.8 million allocated to the Facilities Capital budget.

The Salary and Expenses budget line reflects Smithsonian’s new strategic plan and allocates funds in four major categories: $8 million for Biodiversity (including support for biodiversity and climate change research), DNA barcoding, and the Encyclopedia of Life Web site; $1 million for Understanding the American Experience; $500,000 for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe; and $500,000 for World Cultures.

The budget request also proposes to invest an additional “$2.4 million to improve the preservation, storage, documentation and accessibility to the Institution’s collections (yay!) and for the care of the animals at the National Zoo. The term ‘broadening access’ in the strategic plan refers to making the collections accessible to researchers and people who cannot visit the museums by using the Internet and other technologies. A total of $1.5 million will be dedicated to staff and computer equipment to continue the process of digitizing the Smithsonian collections. As you'll know from previous posts, this is something PoH is greatly in favor of.

Funding for collections would grow to $73 million, up from roughly $69 million for FY 2010 and the $64 million appropriated for FY 2009. The President has also requested important new funding for SI research. If the requested $86 million is appropriated, the federal investment in SI research would be roughly $15 million higher than the FY 2009 appropriation and nearly $12 million above the estimated funding for FY 2010.

The President’s budget also includes funding to provide for an increase of nearly 70 civilian full time equivalent (FTE) positions across SI. So they'll be job opportunities as well.

All that's needed now is that Congress has to approve the budget....

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