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Monday, August 22, 2011

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011

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

President Obama requested $147.696 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2011, a $343 million (0.2%) increase from the estimated FY2010 R&D funding level of $147.353 billion. Congress plays 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 of the end of the 111th Congress, no regular appropriations bill had been enacted by Congress. Two of the 12 regular appropriations bills had passed the House (the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011); none had passed the Senate. To provide for continuity of government operations into FY2011, the 111th and 112th Congress passed a series of continuing resolutions that provided funding for all agencies until enactment of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10) on April 15, 2011. Division A of the act provides FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Defense; Division B provides full-year continuing funding for FY2011 for all other agencies at their FY2010 levels unless other provisions in the act specify otherwise. With respect to federal R&D funding overall and to several agencies in particular, it is not possible yet to assess the level of funding provided under the act. This report will be updated as additional information about FY2011 R&D funding becomes available.

Under the President’s request, six federal agencies would have received 94.8% of total federal R&D spending: the Department of Defense (DOD, 52.5%), Department of Health and Human Services (largely the National Institutes of Health) (21.8%), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (7.4%), Department of Energy (7.6%), National Science Foundation (3.8%), and Department of Agriculture (1.7%). NASA would have received the largest dollar increase for R&D of any agency, $1.700 billion (18.3%) above its FY2010 funding level; DOD would have received the largest reduction in R&D funding, $3.542 billion (4.4%) below its FY2010 level.

President Obama requested increases in the R&D budgets of the three agencies that were targeted for doubling in the America COMPETES Act and its reauthorization, and by President Bush under his American Competitiveness Initiative using FY2006 R&D funding as the baseline. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would have received an increase of $226 million (4.6%), the National Science Foundation an increase of $551 million (8.0%), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s core research and facilities an increase of $48 million (7.3%). P.L. 112-10 provided less than the FY2010 level and less than the President’s request for each of these accounts. In aggregate, funding for these accounts under P.L. 112-10 is less than in FY2010 and less than the President’s request.

For the past five years, federal R&D funding and execution has been affected by mechanisms used to complete the annual appropriations process—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), the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), and P.L. 112- 10. 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: August 12, 2011
Number of Pages: 53
Order Number: R41098
Price: $29.95

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