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Tuesday, September 27, 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.

At the time the President’s FY2012 budget was released, action had not been completed on FY2011 full-year funding. In the absence of FY2011 appropriations data, the President’s budget compares his FY2012 request to FY2010 appropriations. On April 15, 2011, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10) was signed into law. 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. Therefore this report compares the President’s FY2012 funding request to FY2011 levels, where possible, and to FY2010 levels elsewhere. This report will be updated as additional information about FY2011 R&D funding becomes available and as Congress acts on FY2012 appropriations bills. Comparison of the President’s request to enacted funding levels is complicated by several factors, including the omission of congressionally directed spending from the President’s FY2012 budget request.

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 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 funding as the baseline. Although President Obama supported a 10-year doubling in his FY2010 budget, his FY2012 budget is intentionally silent on a timeframe. Under the FY2012 budget request, funding for the DOE Office of Science would increase by $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%).

For the past five years, federal R&D funding and execution has been affected by mechanisms used to complete the annual appropriations process. 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 19, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R
Price: $29.95

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