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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2012

John F. Sargent Jr., Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

President Obama has requested $147.911 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2012, a $772 million (0.5%) increase from the FY2010 actual R&D funding level of $147.139 billion. Congress will play a central role in defining the nation’s R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines, programs, or agencies to address priorities. As yearlong funding for FY2011 appropriations has not yet been completed, this report compares the President’s FY2012 request to FY2010 appropriations. Analysis of federal R&D funding is complicated by several factors, including the Obama Administration’s omission of congressionally directed spending from the FY2012 budget request. This report will be updated as Congress acts on FY2012 appropriations bills.

Under the President’s request, six federal agencies would receive 94.8% of total federal R&D spending: the Department of Defense (DOD, 51.8%), Department of Health and Human Services (largely the National Institutes of Health, 21.9%), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (6.6%), Department of Energy (DOE, 8.8%), National Science Foundation (NSF, 4.3%), and Department of Agriculture (1.5%). The Department of Energy would receive the largest R&D dollar increase for FY2012 of any agency, $2.153 billion (19.9%) above its FY2010 funding level. The DOD would receive the largest reduction in R&D funding, $3.969 billion (-4.9%) less than its FY2010 level.

President Obama’s request includes increases in the R&D budgets of the three agencies that were targeted for doubling over 7 years by the America COMPETES Act, and over 10 years by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and by President Bush under his American Competitiveness Initiative, as measured using FY2006 R&D funding as the baseline. Under President Obama’s FY2012 budget, the DOE Office of Science would receive an increase of $512 million (10.4%) over its FY2010 funding level, the NSF budget would rise by $795 million (11.4%), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s core research and facilities construction funding would grow by $111.1 million (17.0%).

President Obama continues support for three multi-agency R&D initiatives. The President’s FY2012 request includes $2.132 billion in funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, $201 million (10.4%) above the FY2010 funding level. The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program would receive $3.868 billion in FY2012 funding under the President’s request, an increase of $74 million (2.0%) from the FY2010 level. The President’s request proposes $2.633 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program in FY2012, $446 million (20.4%) above the FY2010 level.

For the past five years, federal R&D funding and execution has been affected by mechanisms used to complete the annual appropriations process—multiple short-term continuing resolutions for FY2011, the year-long continuing resolution for FY2007 (P.L. 110-5), and the combining of multiple regular appropriations bills into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161), the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8), and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117). Completion of appropriations after the beginning of each fiscal year may cause agencies to delay or cancel some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.

Date of Report: March 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 48
Order Number: R41706
Price: $29.95

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