FY 2016 Appropriations: Department of Energy Office of Science to Grow 5.6%

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Publication date: 
17 December 2015

The annual spending legislation for FY 2016 would increase spending at the Department of Energy Office of Science by 5.6 percent over FY 2015 levels and provide direction on matters including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, next-generation supercomputing, climate modeling, and a slew of physical sciences facilities and projects

Congress is nearing the completion of its FY 2016 budget process, as negotiators released the FY 2016 year-end annual spending bill for review on Tuesday evening. As FYI reported yesterday, the legislation contains $1.15 trillion in discretionary spending authority and designates funding levels for the nation’s major science agencies, offices and programs through the end of September 2016, including for the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE Science).

The DOE Science section of the spending bill can be found on pages 414-415, and Congress’ guidance for DOE Science can be found on pages 32-34 of the bill’s joint explanatory statement.


Department / Office / Division FY14 enacted FY15 enacted FY16 President's request FY16 enacted Change between FY15 and FY16
Department of Energy 27,182.0 27,402.4 29,923.8 29,717.3 8.4%
Office of Science 5,066.4 5,067.7 5,339.8 5,350.2 5.6%
Advanced Scientific Computing Research 478.1 541.0 621.0 621.0 14.8%
Basic Energy Sciences 1,711.9 1,733.2 1,849.3 1,848.7 6.7%
Biological & Environmental Research 609.7 592.0 612.4 609.0 2.9%
Fusion Energy Sciences 504.7 467.5 420.0 438.0 -6.3%
  High Energy Physics 796.5 766.0 788.0 795.0 3.8%
  Nuclear Physics 569.1 595.5 624.6 617.1 3.6%
Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy 280.0 280.0 325.0 291.0 3.9%
* Figures in millions of U.S dollars


As the table above shows, DOE Science is slated for a 5.6 percent increase in spending between FY 2015 and FY 2016. Within that amount are year-over-year changes ranging from increases as high as 14.8 percent, for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, and a decrease of 6.3 percent, for Fusion Energy Sciences. Other major divisions of DOE Science include Basic Energy Sciences, Biological & Environmental Research, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics.

A 5.6 percent increase for the DOE Science, which operates 10 major national laboratories and serves as a powerful engine for basic research, is in line with the overall 5.2 percent increase overall federal discretionary spending is receiving in FY 2016. In the House report for DOE Science, filed in April, the House Appropriations Committee noted:

The Committee has placed a high priority on funding [DOE Science] activities in fiscal year 2016, given the private sector is not likely to fund research whose findings either have high non-commercial value or are not likely to be commercialized in the near or medium term. However, this work is vital to sustaining the scientific leadership of the United States and can provide the underpinnings for valuable intellectual property in the coming decades.

In the DOE Science section, the bill restricts the amount of funding DOE may allocate to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a fusion energy facility under construction in France and supported by 35 nations that is testing the feasibility of fusion as an energy source, to no more than $115 million this year. This would be significantly less than the $150 million that DOE funded ITER in FY 2015 or the $199.5 million it funded the project in FY 2014. The U.S. is committed to paying 9.1 percent of ITER’s construction costs, but congressional appropriators are concerned funding for ITER is crowding out other federal science investments.

In other highlights for the physical sciences, the DOE Science guidance in the FY 2016 spending bill would:

  • Provide $157.9 million for the exascale computing initiative, to “enable basic and energy-focused science research not previously possible” and to “maintain the nation’s global leadership in computing technologies
  • Provide $77 million for the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, $104.3 million for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and $86 million for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;
  • Direct the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee to update its assessment of proposed upgrades to X-ray scattering facilities and to the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and to prioritize the division’s next five major projects;
  • Provide $24.1 million for the Batteries and Energy Storage Innovation Hub and $15 million for the Fuels from Sunlight Innovation Hub;
  • Via a Senate proposal, encourage DOE to increase funding for academia to perform climate model studies, “including the collection and evaluation of atmospheric data sets from satellite observations obtained in cooperation with NASA”;
  • Provide $20.0 million for the Advanced Photon Source upgrade project at Argonne National Laboratory and $15.5 million for the National Synchrotron Light Source-II at Brookhaven National Laboratory;
  • Provide at least $71 million for the National Spherical Torus Experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory;
  • Provide at least $80 million for DIII-D fusion energy research program;
  • Provide at least $18 million for Alcator C-Mod at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Provide $26 million for Long Baseline Neutrino Facility project construction at Fermilab;
  • Provide $10.3 million for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, $10.5 million for the G2 Dark Matter Experiment LUX ZEPLIN at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and $40.8 million for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope camera;
  • Via a House proposal, strongly support DOE efforts to advance the recommendations of the Particle Physics Prioritization Panel and urge the Department to maintain a careful balance among competing priorities and among small, medium, and large scale projects;
  • Via a House proposal, provide $40.1 million for the construction of the Muon to Electron Conversion Experiment at Fermilab;
  • Provide $100 million for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams under construction at Michigan State University; and
  • Via a House proposal, provide $100.2 million to support the 12GeV Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.