U.S. Congress Again Saves, Increases Museum Funding

“The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) commends the U.S. Congress for completing work on the Federal budget for Fiscal Year 2019 and for continuing to support science; research; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This bipartisan effort to resolve Fiscal Year 2019 funding is particularly welcome as the science community works to recover from the extensive negative impacts caused by the recent partial government shutdown. Setting course for the future, we encourage robust funding for public engagement with science and programs in informal STEM education that support America’s new, five-year STEM Education Strategic Plan. These programs provide critical support to science centers, museums, and other informal science-learning organizations across the country that inspire, engage, and educate millions of Americans about STEM each year.”
—Cristin Dorgelo, President and CEO, ASTC

On February 14, the U.S. Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, a $333 billion bill that will now fund the U.S. government through the end of the current Fiscal Year  2019 (FY19), which ends on September 30. President Trump signed it this afternoon.

With this action, the Federal government is now fully funded for the current fiscal year, which started on October 1, 2018, and additional Federal government shutdowns will not occur during the year, avoiding further harm to the American science, technology, and innovation enterprise and other critical government functions.

Similar to last year, in a bipartisan effort, members of both the House and Senate overwhelmingly refused nearly all of the Administration’s proposed deep cuts in science and science education—and again went further by providing some funding increases.

Here is a quick summary of the FY19 funding for informal STEM education within key science-mission agencies:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) will receive about $8.1 billion, 8% more than the Administration’s request and a 4% increase over FY18. NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources will have a budget of about $910 million, or 4% more that the President requested and 1% over the FY18 budget.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will have a FY19 budget of roughly $21.5 billion, up more than 9% over the Administration’s FY19 request and about 4% beyond last year’s budget. The Administration’s proposal to eliminate the NASA Office of Education in FY19 was rejected by Congress, which instead increased funding from $100 million to $110 million, while renaming it the Office of STEM Opportunities. While this office undergoes transitions, there will be fewer funds available through the Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) program, which the Administration had also proposed to eliminate.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will see a FY19 budget of about $39.1 billion—13% more than the Administration’s proposal and a 5% increase over FY18.
  • At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency budget for FY19 will be about $5.4 billion, a 19% increase over the President’s request although an 8% cut from the FY18 budget.

Below are some of the additional details in the FY19 budget, for programs specifically related to informal STEM education programs and other programs of interest to science centers and museums.

ASTC and its Public Policy Committee deeply appreciate the efforts of everyone who contacted their elected officials during this year’s budget process, pushing for strong funding for science, research, and education.

Now, and in the weeks, and months ahead, join us in the push for additional Federal support of public engagement in science in FY20!


FY18 FY19
Advancing Informal STEM Learning
$62.5 M $62.5 M $62.5 M
STEM and Computer Science Education
$51.9 M $33 M $51.9 M
Office of STEM Opportunity (Office of Education)
$100 M Eliminate $110 M
Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (former Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums)
$10 M Eliminate at least
$5 M
Science Education Partnerships Awards
$19.5 M Undetermined $19.5 M
Competitive Grants
$7.5 M Eliminate $7.5 M
Bay Watershed Education and Training
$5 M Eliminate $5 M
Office of Museum Services
$34.7 M Eliminate $38 M
National Endowment for the Humanities $152.8 M Eliminate $155 M
National Endowment for the Arts $152.8 M Eliminate $155 M
Department of Education/
Title II—
Effective Teaching
$2.1 B Eliminate $2.1 B
Department of Education/
Title IV A—
Student Support and Academic Enrichment
$1.1 B Eliminate $1.2 B
Department of Education/
Title IV B—
21st Century Community Learning Centers
$1.2 B Eliminate $1.2 B
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