Innovation Lightbulb: CHIPS and Science Funding Falling Short

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In this week's Innovation Lightbulb newsletter, we look at a concerning trend in appropriations for the CHIPS and Science Act.

The CHIPS and Science Act enjoyed significant bipartisan support when it passed in August 2022. However, compiling legislative data from both the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 and the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Presidential Budget Request, the Federation of American Scientists has found that the funding trajectory for FY 2023-24 shows CHIPS appropriations falling billions of dollars short of authorized levels.

While the $52 billion for chip manufacturing subsidies and related research and development (R&D) initiatives is secure, the "Science" half of CHIPS and Science may fail to have the transformational impact envisioned if it lacks the budgetary follow-through from Congress.

The Act authorized $22.4 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology for FY 2023 to bolster scientific R&D and enhance STEM workforce development initiatives critical for addressing acute and long-term talent shortages in high-tech sectors. However, the final omnibus appropriations for FY 2023, passed in December 2022, only amounted to $19.6 billion.

For FY 2024, CHIPS authorized $26.8 billion across the three research agencies. However, the White House has only requested $21.7 billion, a startling 19 percent shortfall of authorized levels. Of the three agencies, the NSF experienced the most significant funding deficit, with appropriated funding 17 percent below its authorized budget in FY 2023. The NSF's funding is on track to trail its authorizations by 27 percent in FY 2024 based on the White House budget request released in March 2023.

Over the course of the next year, CHIPS and Science programs will face more political hurdles as Congress negotiates appropriations to avoid a government shutdown this fall and as the United States approaches its next debt ceiling deadline in January 2025.

As these negotiations take place, Congress must remember why it enthusiastically passed the CHIPS and Science Act one year ago this month. The U.S. is in the midst of a geopolitical competition in which technology and economic competitiveness will play a decisive role. Beyond scientific cooperation with its allies, the United States must strengthen its science and technology enterprise at home. In light of this, the current CHIPS-funding trajectory merits correction.

Data visualization by Jaeyhun Han

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Gregory Arcuri
Program Manager and Research Associate, Renewing American Innovation Project

Bailey Crane

Research Intern, Renewing American Innovation Project