The Smithsonian Institution is among a handful of agencies that could receive a funding increase in fiscal year 2017, which starts on October 1, 2016. The House of Representatives passed legislation to fund the institution’s operations at $696.1 million, an increase of $16.4 million.
In the committee report accompanying H.R. 5538, lawmakers called out the “longstanding commitment to the preservation of priceless, irreplaceable Smithsonian Institution collections…The Committee is pleased by continuing efforts to improve the long-term inventory, preservation, and storage of historical collections.” The bill provides $1.5 million in new funding to address collections management deficiencies identified by the Smithsonian’s Inspector General.
It is unclear if new funding requested for digitization of collections and hiring additional curators was funded. Given that the House legislation provided $46.7 million less than President Obama requested for Smithsonian, some new initiatives will not be funded this year.
The Senate version of the bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee in June. It would provide an even larger increase than the House bill for Smithsonian’s operating expenses and salaries (+$22.0 million). Within this amount, lawmakers say is enough funding to support the additional collections staff hired in fiscal year 2016.
The House and Senate are both considering legislation to fund the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in fiscal year 2017. The House bill would flat fund IMLS as well as all museum related programs within the agency. Conversely, the Senate proposes a $1 million increase for IMLS and an additional $1.4 for the National Leadership Grants for Museums program, which supports collections stewardship, and informal education. This increase would be partly paid for by a $0.8 million cut to the Museums for America program, which similar work as the leadership grants, but in smaller amounts.