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Monday, January 30, 2012

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.

Congress incorporated all the regular appropriations acts into two bills, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74). P.L. 112-55, incorporating three regular appropriations acts—the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Act; Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies Act; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Act—was passed by Congress on November 17, 2011 and signed into law two days later. P.L. 112-74, incorporating the nine remaining regular appropriations acts, was passed by Congress on December 17, 2011 and signed into law by President Obama on December 23, 2011.

Prior to enactment of these bills, Congress had continued government operations into FY2012 through a series of continuing appropriations acts. P.L. 112-33 provided agency funding initially through October 4, 2011. P.L. 112-36 extended funding for all agencies through November 18, 2011. P.L. 112-55 extended funding through December 16, 2011 for agencies not covered under its provisions. For more than a decade, federal R&D has been affected by mechanisms used to continue appropriations in the absence of enactment of regular appropriations acts and to complete the annual appropriations process. Completion of appropriations after the beginning of a fiscal year may cause agencies to delay or cancel some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.

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 compared 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 provided FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Defense; Division B provided full-year continuing funding for FY2011 for all other agencies at their FY2010 levels unless otherwise specified in the act. 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. 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.

President Obama’s request included 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 was intentionally silent on a timeframe.

Date of Report: January 1
8, 2012
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R41
Price: $29.95

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