The Smithsonian Institution is lifting its hiring freeze for workers paid from federal funds now that Congress has approved a 7 percent increase for the museum complex's budget that began in October.
Budget figures for fiscal year 2009 announced Thursday total $731.4 million in federal funds for the Smithsonian, up from $682.6 million in 2008. The increase includes about $31 million more for salaries and expenses, such as utilities, security and operating costs.
A hiring freeze remains in effect, though, for jobs paid from Smithsonian trust funds, spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said.
The increased federal funding comes from the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that had stalled in Congress but was signed into law last week.
Increased facilities funding will help revitalize some Smithsonian buildings. Improvements are planned at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Zoo and support buildings.
Federal funding represents about 70 percent of the Smithsonian's annual budget of $1 billion.
The Smithsonian also is receiving $25 million from the federal stimulus package. About $5 million will be spent on repairs at the crumbling Arts and Industries building, which has been shuttered on the National Mall. The zoo will receive an additional $11.4 million for fire protection and other upgrades to animal holding facilities at its Front Royal, Va., research center.
Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough has said budget cuts might be necessary for some units that rely on private funds because of a sharp decline in the Smithsonian's endowment.
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