Senate Legislation Prioritizes Science, HPC

By Tiffany Trader

June 18, 2014

The US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development is proposing legislation that would boost funding for scientific discovery and next-generation computing. The panel, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), approved federal funding legislation that would provide $5.086 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science for the 2015 fiscal year that begins October 1.

The suggested investment, which increases the Office of Science budget by $20 million above fiscal year 2014 levels, is part of a strategy to “advance the highest priorities in materials research, high performance computing and biology to maintain U.S. scientific leadership,” according to the bill’s sponsors.

Despite the slight increase, the budget is $25 million less than President Obama’s requested amount.

The Senate bill recommends an investment of $151 million for the Exascale Computing Initiative – $91 million from the Office of Science and $60 million from the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“This amount will keep DOE on track to deploy this next-generation computing system by 2022,” the bill’s authors explain. “Exascale computers will not only be substantially faster than today’s highest-performing systems, but also provide new capabilities to answer complex problems needed for scientific discovery, national security and applied energy research.”

The full spending measure directs $34.2 billion toward a wide range of water and energy-related programs that are considered “vital to America’s economic competitiveness and protect Americans from the threat of nuclear terrorism.”

DOE spending in the Senate bill is slightly higher than similar legislation approved by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee earlier this month. The House version would provide $5.071 billion for the DOE’s Office of Science, roughly the same as the current budget and about $40 million less than the White House was seeking.

The Senate bill is on track to go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

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