Congressional funding for WNS

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Congressional funding for WNS

Postby PYoungbaer » Feb 22, 2012 5:07 pm

I thought it would be helpful to post some information about Congressional and Administrative funding for WNS, just to set some context for the overall discussions about WNS.

As we reported earlier, the Federal Fiscal Year 2012 budget act , which finally passed in late December for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2011, contained $4 million for WNS in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife budget. This was not new money, but a Congressional directive to spend the $4 million out of the USFWS' Recovery funds. This means that other activities they had been planning had to take a back seat.

In January, President Obama presented his 2013 budget proposal, and it includes $1.875 million for WNS in the USFWS budget - again from Recovery funds. The U.S. Geological Survey budget also includes $1 million for WNS research. We don't have details yet, so the funding source is unclear. This is the first time that WNS has been specifically mentioned in the President's proposed budget.

Now, this is an election year, and many Washington observers feel that Congress will not pass many agency budgets, rather choosing to operate once again on continuing budget resolutions until after the November election. This process typically level-funds budgets from the prior year for short periods of time, until a comprehensive budget act/compromise passes. This process essentially hijacks the normal committee review of programs and budgets, meaning testimony and advocacy efforts can be largely irrelevant.

That said, we are aware that at least some Congressional committees and staff continue to work on WNS. We are expecting a hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee sometime in the second half of March.

In the meantime, and also to help provide context for all the WNS discussions, a large collaborative of environmental organizations have produced a lengthy document called the Green Budget for a number of years. This year's version contains a few mentions of WNS, including a separate section specifically on WNS. Here's a link to the entire document: The main write-up is pp. 12-22 and 12-23 (pp. 247-248 of the PDF). I would urge everyone to read at least that section to see what is being said about WNS.

Going back to the $4 million appropriation made in December, we don't yet have any details on how or when that funding will be used or distributed. There was a prior Request for Proposals by USFWS for research projects totaling up to $1 million due Dec. 4, with awards expected to be announced this month (February) with project start dates expected around May 1. If history is any guide, the $4 million will be split between agency management activities, state grants, and competitive research, but the funds will take up to a year or more before they hit the street.

Again, my purpose in posting this information is to make folks aware of the overall context in which WNS responses are taking place.
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Re: Congressional funding for WNS

Postby ron_miller » Feb 22, 2012 11:11 pm

Thanks for your continuing work on this, Peter. It is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Congressional funding for WNS

Postby BrianC » Feb 23, 2012 12:25 pm

No time to read this at the present, but bet your bottom buck that I will have something to say at a later time. :big grin:
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