FY 2016 Budget Proposal Overview

On Monday, February 2, 2015 President Obama released his proposal for the FY 2016 federal budget. This document puts forward the President’s vision for government priorities and marks the start of the annual budget and appropriations cycle. The FY 2016 budget proposal asks for a 6% increase in federal spending on research and development and a 7% increase in overall discretionary spending. And as expected, the budget would lift the spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, ending sequestration. Funding levels and details for the NIH, NSF, NASA, and VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program are below.


The proposed budget for the NIH is $31.3 billion. This is an increase of $1 billion over the FY 2015 budget, a 3.3% increase. For reference, the NIH recently announced that the rate of biomedical research inflation (BRDPI) is estimated to be 2.4%.

The NIH budget request highlighted three flagship programs this year:

  • The Precision Medicine initiative would be funded with $200 million in FY 2016, with $70 million going to cancer genomics, and $130 million to develop national research cohort of 1 million participants. This is a multi-agency initiative.
  • Another $100 million would go to the Antimicrobial Resistance initiative, a multi-agency project intended to address the growing public health crisis represented by the rise of multiple drug resistant pathogenic bacteria.
  • Funding for the BRAIN initiative would increase by $70 million in FY16, for total investment FY16 of $135 million.
  • An additional $50 million in the President’s budget proposal would go to Alzheimer’s Disease research.

The NIH estimates that the budget proposal would fund more than 10,000 competing RPGs, for a total of more than 35,000 total RPGs. This would represent an increase of 1200 grants over the current fiscal year, with an estimated overall success rate of 19.3%.

The budget proposal also highlighted NIH’s plans to continue to foster a diverse and talented workforce. There would be an increase of $23 million in training funds and an average stipend increase of 2%.

NIH Director’s budget presentation


The proposed budget for the NSF is FY 2016 is $7.7 billion, a $379.34 million increase over FY 2015 (5.2%). The budget for research and related activities (R&RA) would increase by 4.3%, and education and human resources (E&HR) would increase by 11.2%. The BIO directorate is slated for a 2.3% increase.

The NSF budget request highlights four NSF-wide priority areas:

  • Understanding the Brain, the NSF’s contribution to the BRAIN initiative, would be funded at $143 million, $37 million over the FY15 level.
  • Risk and resilience, an effort “to improve predictability and risk assessment and increase resilience to extreme natural and man-made events in order to reduce their impact on quality of life, society and the economy” would be funded at $58 million. This would represent an increase of $38 million over FY15.
  • Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems is a new effort to understand, design and model the interconnected food, energy, and water system. This program would be funded at $75 million in FY 2016.
  • Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) is a new initiative to increase participation of traditionally underserved and/or underrepresented persons in STEM. It would be funded with $15 million in FY 2016.

NSF Budget Documents


The proposed budget for NASA is $18.5 billion, a $0.5 billion (2.7%) increase over FY 2015. The budget for the Human Research Program would increase to $167 million, and $394 million would be provided for research on the International Space Station.

The budget documents highlight the year-long joint US/Russia ISS mission which will allow a twin study between astronauts on ISS and Earth (the Kelly brothers).

NASA Budget Documents

VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program

The proposed budget for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research is $622 million, $33 million over FY 2015 (5.7%).

The budget documents highlight a $10.2 million strategic initiative to support improvement in health care through research on a “Learning Health Care System” which is responsive to new information, adapts to implement more effective clinical practices, and supports a culture of self-reflection and continuing education. Other areas seeing significant increases include brain injury, aging, infectious disease and mental illness.

VA Budget Documents