Climate & Environment Budget

National Priorities

Effects of proposed budget changes to fiscal year 2018 climate & environmental research & development programs

The Administration’s proposal for the Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2018 included significant reductions to many climate and environmental programs.

It was unclear whether any or all of these reductions would be sustained.

Novim believes that a rigorous assessment of the impacts of such substantial changes on critical programs is a necessary undertaking. This study was intended to inform the general public, the scientific community and policymakers in both the Administration and Congress of what the impacts of the reductions might be.


The full report, Warning Signs: Effects of Proposed Federal Funding Cuts to Environmental and Climate Research and Development Programs, was published in 2017.

From Study Author, Ari Patrinos

Study Impact 

Novim’s intent was to avoid any shrill “sky is falling” complaints while providing a logical analysis of what would be lost in terms of necessary information to guide policymaking as well as impacts on workforce education and training. 

Dr. Jack Fellows was asked to chair the study as he has had a long career involving leadership and management of R&D, including a significant stint in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The balance of the team was a cadre of experienced individuals with prior experience in both the Administration and Congress with deep knowledge of how the federal budget process works. It is important to point out the strong bipartisan composition of this team—members who have served both the Democratic and Republican parties. The result was their ability to reach out to many colleagues serving in the Administration and Congress to tease out important details of the budget proposals being examined. 

This study included many separate consultations and analyses culminating in a group meeting during which major conclusions were hammered out. The final report contains both detailed budget numbers and impacts by program and agency as well as the holistic effects across both the national and international R&D landscape. 

NOVIM’s report and its conclusions were widely disseminated across the Administration’s agencies, the Congress, and the broad scientific community. Individual members of the team were invited speakers at many scientific meetings including the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society where results were summarized and questions answered. A related press event was held at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. 

Novim also partnered with the Energy and Environmental Study Institute (EESI) to host an event in the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives. Presentations by Ari Patrinos, Novim Chief Scientist and Kei Koizumi, a visiting scholar at the AAAS who served in the Obama Administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy were covered by a C-Span broadcast. Congressional staffers in attendance commented that the report’s message had resonated across several Congressional committees. 

Subsequent to the report’s publication, the fiscal year 2018 budget was finalized and most of the programs studied were fully funded – in fact some received generous increases that have cheered the scientific community. 

However, the Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 contains the same cuts that were targeted for 2018. Indications are Congress will once again likely protect these budgets, but at the EESI event Novim was asked whether a follow-on study is being planned. Several Congressional staffers commented that this would assist them in the further evaluation of these programs. If support can be found, Novim would consider an update.

~ Aristides Patrinos, PhD, Novim Chief Scientist and Director of Research