President Joe Biden sent his first discretionary funding request to Congress Friday, outlining a $1.5 trillion spending roadmap that includes cash infusions to the Technology Modernization Fund and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as well as “$750 million as a reserve for Federal agency information technology enhancements.”
This outline, released Friday, previews a fuller proposal coming this spring and includes $769 billion in non-defense discretionary spending—a 16% increase from what was enacted in fiscal year 2021, according to the request the Office of Management submitted to Congress. On the defense side, this year’s request proposes a 1.7% increase for a total of $753 billion. But the president’s proposal also eliminates the controversial Overseas Contingency Operations fund as a separate category.
“I think this is the beginning of a long appropriations process, that, however, the president’s budget will influence,” administration officials told reporters during a briefing ahead of the budget’s release. “I think it will set a tone, and I think there are a lot of bipartisan programs, you will see highlighted when you take a look through what the president is championing.”
The budget calls for several new initiatives, such as two new advanced research projects agencies: one for health and one for climate. The National Institutes of Health would house ARPA-H, which under the budget proposal would kick off with $6.5 billion. The request also calls for $1 billion for an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate under the Energy Department, which already hosts ARPA-E.
The request included important items for technology and research and development under nearly every federal agency, from money for continued modernization of the Veterans Affairs Department’s Electronic Health Record System to a new directorate for emerging technology under the National Science Foundation. Here’s a breakdown:
USDA would receive $27.8 billion in funding under the budget proposal, a $3.8 billion or 16% increase over 2021. Key funding increases include an additional $65 million for the agency’s Rural e-Connectivity Program, which provides down payments for grants and loads sought by rural communities for broadband initiatives.
The budget request also includes $4 billion—a $650 million increase over 2021 levels—for USDA’s research, education and outreach programs, including science-based and data-driven innovation tools. The discretionary request also includes billions of dollars in clean energy funding, including $400 million in new funding to give rural electric providers flexibility as they move to carbon-pollution-free electricity by 2035.
The Commerce Department, which houses several agencies that deal with technology, research and economic issues, would receive a 28% increase in funding up to $11.4 billion.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s manufacturing programs would receive $442 million, which includes $150 million for two new innovation institutes. The standards agency would also receive a $128 million increase in funding for new research in “climate-resilient building codes, computing, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, quantum information science, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.”
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration would receive $39 million for the development and deployment of broadband and 5G technologies.
The discretionary budget request would add another $1.4 billion to funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2021 spending to expand a variety of investments in climate research, data and tools. Further, NOAA would receive a bump of $500 million for a $2 billion investment in next-generation weather satellites.
The budget dedicates $715 billion to the Defense Department, a number that includes the kind of direct war costs previously housed in the separate OCO fund. The administration pinpoints China and Russia as key competitors. It also includes a focus on climate, a major theme of the overall budget request.
For technology, “the discretionary request prioritizes defense research, development, test, and evaluation funding to invest in breakthrough technologies that would drive innovation and underpin the development of next-generation defense capabilities” while also supporting getting rid of legacy systems and programs. The request states the department would be allowed to reinvest savings from divested systems into “higher priority investments.”
The budget includes investments for DOD in countering emerging biological threats as well.
The Education Department received one of the largest funding increases of any agency. The discretionary request includes $102.8 billion—41% more than it received in 2021. The request outlines several programs focused on inclusion and addressing disparities.
In addition to a combined $1 billion for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate proposed in the budget and the existing ARPA-E, the president wants a $7.4 billion investment in the Energy Department’s Office of Science.
That money—a more than $400 million increase compared to 2021—is meant to promote a better understanding of climate change, clean energy technology, artificial intelligence and computing. It would also support the National Laboratory network “with cutting-edge scientific facilities.” Overall, the president wants $46.1 billion set aside for Energy.
Environmental Protection Agency
The president wants a 21.3% increase to the EPA’s budget for a total of $11.2 billion in discretionary funds. More than $100 million of that money would be used for rebuilding the agency’s workforce.
General Services Administration
The Technology Modernization Fund received a funding boost in the latest COVID relief package. The president’s budget request would add another $500 million to TMF on top of the $1 billion provided under the American Rescue Plan Act. Previously, Congress had only approved a maximum of $175 million for the fund.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the significant cyber incident impacting agencies through products such as SolarWinds, continue to highlight the urgent need to modernize Federal technology, with particular emphasis on mission essential systems and citizen-facing digital services,” the request notes.
The president’s request includes $1.5 billion for GSA in net discretionary budget authority.
“On a gross basis, the discretionary request provides GSA with more than $12 billion,” the request reads.
Health and Human Services Department
The president’s HHS budget request increases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget by $1.6 billion over 2021 for a total of $8.7 billion.
“Building on the investments in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, CDC would use this additional funding to support core public health capacity improvements in States and Territories, modernize public health data collection nationwide and train a cadre of epidemiologists and other public health experts who can deploy and support State and local public health efforts,” the request reads.
Including the $6.5 billion for the new ARPA-H, the president requests $51 billion for NIH, and $131.7 billion for HHS overall.
Homeland Security Department
The president’s request for DHS adds on to the $650 million given to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed by the president last month. Biden’s budget calls for $2.1 billion to CISA, which OMB notes in the budget document is $110 million more than enacted in 2021.
“This funding would allow CISA to enhance its cybersecurity tools, hire highly qualified experts, and obtain support services to protect and defend Federal information technology systems,” the request reads.
On top of that money, the budget also includes $20 million for a new Cyber Response and Recovery Fund.
While the discretionary request puts the department’s overall budget at $52 billion, it does not include more money to build the border wall—and proposes unobligated balances leftover from previous years be canceled. It does, however, include $1.2 billion for border infrastructure, a category that includes “investments in modern border security technology and assets,” according to the budget request.
Housing and Urban Development Department
The president requests $68.7 billion for HUD, which is $9 billion more than enacted in 2021. Some $3.8 billion of that money would go toward the Community Development Block Grant program, which includes modernization of public infrastructure and facilities in communities facing persistent poverty. HUD-assisted properties would see $800 million for energy-efficient upgrades and to mitigate climate-induced impacts.
The president requests $17.4 billion for the Interior Department, covering money for advancing climate science as well as the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps meant to foster a generation of conservationists. The request also aims to rebuild “core functions and capacities with DOI that have diminished in recent years” by hiring U.S. Geological Survey staff and investing in other national park and wildlife refuge operations.
The Justice Department would receive $35.2 billion in fiscal 2022, a $1.8 billion increase over 2021 funding. The request includes resources to protect government-supported research and development against foreign interference and exploitation, with an emphasis on protecting “American leadership in emerging technology.”
The Labor Department would receive a 14% increase under the president’s discretionary budget request, up to $14.2 billion. The request also aims to address “inadequacies of States’ administration of their unemployment insurance (UI) systems” and includes $100 million to support IT solutions that can be deployed in states to “ensure timely and equitable access to benefits.”
The space agency’s $24.7 billion would fund both moon and Mars missions, as well as develop new technologies that could help boost the budding commercial space industry through the Space Technology R&D portfolio. More than $2 billion would be dedicated to the Earth Science program to study climate change and develop new Earth-observing satellites. The request also includes $20 million to expand STEM opportunities for underserved and underrepresented communities.
National Science Foundation
NSF’s increased budget—$10.2 billion—would include a brand new directorate focused on emerging technology to “expedite technology development in emerging areas that are crucial for U.S. technological leadership.” The directorate would work with with federal and outside groups to shift advancements in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum and high performance computing and other research into practical applications. The request also includes $1.2 billion for climate and clean energy research and $$9.4 billion for fundamental R&D in STEM fields.
Small Business Administration
The agency would receive an increased budget of $852 million, with $30 million marked to increase and scale innovation-centered programs like the Federal and State Technology Partnership Program and the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
Social Security Administration
The president requests $14.2 for the agency, about a 10% increase over the 2021-enacted levels. The request includes maintaining and improving IT systems and moving more services online, though it does not designate specific amounts or projects.
The State Department would receive a 12-percent increase in funding under the request, up to $63.5 billion. Part of the funding increase targets the prevention, detection and response to “future biological threats and pandemics,” including $10 billion for global health programs. The State Department would also receive $2.5 billion for international climate programs, four times the amount allocated in fiscal 2021.
The request includes $25.6 billion for Transportation, up more than $300 million from 2021, but provides an additional $3.2 billion for discretionary programs. The funding would cover investments in transportation infrastructure, including the increased costs of managing the National Airspace System to improve air safety and incorporate newcomers like unmanned systems and commercial space flight.
The Treasury Department would receive a 10.6% increase in funding under the president’s request, totaling $14.9 billion. The request provides $191 million for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network—a $64 million increase over 2021 spending—to create a database that tracks the ownership and control of certain companies to “help combat the use of complex corporate structures to shield illegal activity.”
Veterans Affairs Department
The VA’s overall budget would be $113.1 billion, which includes $4.8 billion for the department’s Office of Information Technology to support several priorities such as cloud modernization and enhancement of the customer service experience. Another $2.7 billion in the president’s plan would go to modernizing VA’s Electronic Health Record.
Frank Konkel and Heather Kuldell contributed to this article.