For fiscal year (FY) 2011, the President has requested a $36 million budget increase for the Smithsonian Institution (SI). If provided by Congress, SI would operate with approximately $797.6 million of federal funds. Within this amount, roughly $661 million (an increase of $27 million) would be allocated to Salaries and Expenses with the balance of $136.8 million allocated to the Facilities Capital budget.
The Salary and Expenses budget line reflects Smithsonian’s new strategic plan. According to SI budget documents, increases are allocated according to the “following categories, or four grand challenges, of the plan: $8 million for Biodiversity, which includes funds for biodiversity and climate change research, DNA barcoding and the Encyclopedia of Life Web site; $1 million for Understanding the American Experience; $500,000 for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe; and $500,000 for World Cultures.”
The budget request also proposes to invest an additional “$2.4 million to improve the preservation, storage, documentation and accessibility to the Institution’s collections and for the care of the animals at the National Zoo. The term ‘broadening access’ in the strategic plan refers to making the collections accessible to researchers and people who cannot visit the museums by using the Internet and other technologies. A total of $1.5 million will be dedicated to staff and computer equipment to continue the process of digitizing the Smithsonian collections.”
Funding for collections would grow to $73 million, up from roughly $69 million for FY 2010 and the $64 million appropriated for FY 2009. The President has also requested important new funding for SI research. If the requested $86 million is appropriated, the federal investment in SI research would be roughly $15 million higher than the FY 2009 appropriation and nearly $12 million above the estimated funding for FY 2010.
The President’s budget also includes funding to provide for an increase of nearly 70 civilian full time equivalent (FTE) positions across SI.
From the approximately $137 million proposed for Facilities Capital, the President would “provide funds for critical infrastructure improvements at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; research facilities at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; and to continue the design of the National Museum.”
The SI conducts research in the natural and physical sciences and in the history of cultures, technology, and the arts. The Institution acquires and preserves for reference and study purposes over one hundred and thirty-six million items of scientific, cultural, and historic importance. It maintains public exhibits in a variety of fields. The Institution operates and maintains 19 museums and galleries; a zoological park and animal conservation and research center; research facilities; and supporting facilities. Included in the presentation of the Salaries and Expenses account are data for the Canal Zone biological area fund.