Smithsonian Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget Request Totals $861.5 Million

February 14, 2011
News Release
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The administration’s FY 2012 budget request to Congress is $861.5 million, an increase from the $761 million appropriated to the Institution in fiscal year 2010. The Smithsonian, like all federal organizations, has been operating this year on a continuing resolution that holds the budget at the FY 2010  level. The Salaries and Expenses request for FY 2012 is $636.5 million (nearly the same as 2010) and the Facilities Capital budget is $225 million, which includes $125 million for the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Salaries and Expenses

The Salaries and Expenses account covers $2.3 million for uncontrollable increases in rents and utilities and workers’ compensation. The FY 2012 budget request continues to place the programmatic increase into the broad categories of the Institution’s strategic plan, linking the funds directly to the overall mission. This year, the Smithsonian will use some of the S&E funds to support the four grand challenges outlined in the strategic plan:

  • $100,000 for research related to Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe.

  • $1.65 million for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, including $750,000 for a global change research program, and funding for other programs such as DNA bar coding and the Encyclopedia of Life (an online database of all the world’s known species).

  • $500,000 for Understanding the American Experience which, along with previous funding, enables the Smithsonian to better document and present the diverse cultures that have become part of American culture.

  • Valuing World Cultures will rely on previous funding to conduct research in history and art of the world’s cultures.

One of the key components of the strategic plan is broadening access to Smithsonian collections, exhibitions and outreach programs. This will be accomplished through new media, digitizing the collections and using social networking tools. A total of $500,000 will be added to this year’s request for digitizing the collections ($400,000) and supporting Web and new media projects ($100,000).

Collections are the heart of the Smithsonian and additional funds have been included in the
FY 2012 request ($500,000) to support collections care and preservation at the National Museum of Natural History and to care for the living collection of animals at the National Zoo.

Maintenance funds are part of the Salaries and Expenses account; this year, the Institution requested total funding of $72 million for maintenance and repair needs.

The FY 2012 request identifies reductions in museums and research centers to keep within the total amount allocated to the Smithsonian by the President’s budget. This required a total of $3.5 million to be redirected to higher priority programs, many directly related to the strategic plan. Among the reductions:

  • The Kids Farm at the National Zoo will close, likely in late spring or summer.

  • A visitors’ services program with paid staff will be replaced by one with volunteers at the National Museum of the American Indian. Information-desk staffing and museum tours will continue as usual.

  • The National Museum of Natural History’s repatriation program funding will be reduced, but a full staff remains in place to fulfill the Smithsonian’s commitment to American Indian tribes requesting the return of sacred objects.

Facilities Capital

Most of the Facilities Capital funds for FY 2012 ($225 million) are directed toward construction of the new museum ($125 million). The additional $100 million is for revitalization projects and design, including $17 million for continued renovation of the National Zoo (completing Asia Trail and upgrading life and safety systems); renovation of the west wing of the National Museum of American History ($11 million); funds for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. ($17.4 million) to replace old trailers and renovate the Mathias Lab; and $8 million for the revitalization of public and non-public spaces in the National Museum of Natural History.

The $100 million revitalization total includes planning and design for future projects ($15.2 million).

A budget summary for the FY 2010 appropriation and FY 2012 requests follows:

Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriation
Fiscal Year 2012
Salaries and Expenses (S&E)
Facilities Capital
Planning and Design
Construction (NMAAHC)
Total Accounts
$861,530, 000


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Linda St. Thomas