President Obama’s Proposed FY ’13 Budget Request to Congress

On February 13, 2012, President Obama sent a proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request to Congress. In general, programs affecting historians, archivists and other National Coalition for History (NCH) stakeholders would receive funding levels comparable to those they received in the FY ’12 budget.

Major exceptions are the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). President Obama has requested FY 2013 funding of $154.2 million for the NEH, an $8.2 million increase from the FY ’12 level of $146 million. The NHPRC would see its budget cut by $2 million from the FY ’12 level of $5 million to $3 million in the President’s proposal.

Below is a summary of the President’s proposed FY ’13 budget for key federal agencies and programs. The FY ‘12 budget numbers are provided for comparison.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

The President’s FY ‘13 appropriations budget request includes $386.8 million for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The agency’s request is a reduction of $4.7 million from the $391.5 million amount Congress provided for the current fiscal year.

NARA has requested $371.7 million for its operating expenses. This includes funding for rent, energy, security and staff costs at NARA’s 44 facilities nationwide as well as operational costs of the Electronic Records Archives program.

NARA’s request also includes $4.1 million for the Office of Inspector General and $8 million for repairs and restorations to NARA-owned buildings, a 12 percent reduction from FY ‘12 funding level of $9.1 million.

To see further background on NARA’s proposed FY ’13 budget, click here.

National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC)

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission grants program would see its funding slashed by $2 million from the current $5 million to $3 million, a 40 percent reduction.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

President Obama has requested FY 2013 funding of $154.2 million for the NEH. This represents an $8.2 million (or 5.6%) increase over the final FY 2012 appropriation of $146 million. This includes an additional $5 million in program funds and a special administrative supplement of $3 million for relocation expenses. If one subtracts that amount, the actual funding available for programs, salaries and expenses is $151.2 million, or a 3.6 percent increase over the current year’s figure.

Last week, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced the selection of the Trump Organization to acquire and redevelop the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue as a luxury hotel. The historic building currently houses the NEH, the National Endowment for the Arts, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. It has not been determined when the move will take place, construction will begin or where the NEH and the other agencies will be relocated.

The President’s request includes:

  • $103.5 million for the Endowment’s grant programs in support of projects in the humanities, including $40.3 million for the operations, projects and programs of the 56 state and territorial humanities councils;
  • $9 million to support NEH’s special initiative—Bridging Cultures—designed to renew and reinforce the bridges between the multiplicities of cultures and heritages that are part of the fabric of American life;
  • $11.5 million in federal matching funds, including funds for the NEH Challenge Grants program to help stimulate and match private donations in support of humanities institutions and organizations;
  • $27.2 million for salaries and expenses needed to operate the agency and as mentioned previously $3 million to offset some of the cost of the relocation of NEH from its current quarters.

For a detailed breakdown of NEH’s budget at the programmatic level, visit the National Humanities Alliance’s website at:

U.S. Department of Education

K-12 History Education

The President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request for the Department of Education once again proposes consolidating K-12 history education into a new program called Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education. In the FY’12 budget, funding for the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program was eliminated and no funding is requested to resuscitate TAH in FY ‘13.

In FY ’13 the Administration proposes $90 million in funding for the new initiative. In FY ’12 that amount was $246 million, showing a reduced commitment on the part of the Administration to the proposal. The Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education program would support competitive grants to States, high-need LEAs, and nonprofit partners to develop and expand innovative practices to improve teaching and learning of the arts, foreign languages, history, government, economics and financial literacy, environmental education, physical education, health education, and other subjects. There would be no dedicated funding for any of the disciplines.

It is important to remember this reorganization of programs is dependent on the passage of a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the law that governs K-12 education. Congress has been stalemated on this issue and it is unlikely that an ESEA reauthorization bill will be enacted amidst election year politics.

Title VI–Fulbright Hays Programs

The U.S. Department of Education’s International Education and Foreign Language Studies (IEFLS) programs, including HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs, form the vital infrastructure of the federal government’s investment in the international service pipeline.

The Fulbright-Hays programs are of particular importance to historians because of the resources they provide for research and education relating to foreign languages and cultures.

Under the President’s proposed budget, the Fulbright-Hays program would be level funded while the Title VI Domestic Programs would see a small increase of $1.7 million.


  • President’s FY ’13 Budget Request: $7.4 million
  • FY ’12: $7.4 million

Higher Education Act, Title VI-A&B (Domestic Programs)

  • President’s FY ’13 Budget Request: $68.2 million
  • FY ’12: $66.5 million

IEFLS Total:

  • President’s FY ’13 Request: $75.6 million
  • FY ’12: $74 million

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

President Obama has requested $232 million in fiscal year 2013 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an amount equal to the agency’s current funding. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To see further background on IMLS’s proposed FY ’13 budget, click here.

Library Programs:

The President requested $184.7 million for library programs. Of that amount, approximately 85 percent ($156.3 million) is distributed through the Grants to States program to the State Library Administrative Agencies in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and freely associated states, according to a population-based formula.

Museum Programs:

The President requested level funding in FY ’13 of $30.9 million for museum programs.

Despite level funding for the IMLS, the proposed budget includes shifts in priorities within the agency. For a breakdown at the programmatic level, go to:

National Park Service (Historic Preservation Programs)

Heritage Preservation programs would receive level funding of $56 million in FY ’13. State historic preservation offices would once again receive $47 million and tribal grants $9 million.

The Heritage Partnership Program would see its grant funding cut by nearly 50 percent from the current $16.3 million to $8.3 million. This program supports the nearly 50 National Heritage Areas created by Congress.

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution’s FY ‘13 request totals $856.8 million, compared to the Institution’s FY ‘12 appropriation of $810.2 million. The request includes $660.3 million for Salaries and Expenses and $196.5 million for Facilities Capital projects. Within the Facilities request is $85 million for construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is expected to open in 2015. An additional $16.5 million is provided to repair building damage from the 2011 earthquake in the Washington, D.C area.

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