John F. Sargent Jr.,
Coordinator Specialist in Science and Technology Policy
Congress has received President Obama’s budget
request for FY2014, which includes $142.773 billion for research and
development (R&D), a $1.861 billion (1.3%) increase from the FY2012 actual
funding level of $140.912 billion. The request represents the President’s
R&D priorities; Congress may opt to agree with part or all of the
request, or may express different priorities through the appropriations
process. In particular, Congress will play a central role in determining 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.
Funding for R&D is highly concentrated in a few departments. Under
President Obama’s FY2014 budget request, seven federal agencies would
receive 95.3% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of
Defense (47.8%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (22.4%, primarily
for the National Institutes of Health) accounting for more than 70% of all
federal R&D funding.
Among the largest changes proposed in the President’s request, the R&D
budget of the Department of Defense would fall by $4.625 billion (6.3%),
while R&D funding for the Department of Commerce’s National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) would increase by $1.428 billion. The
NIST growth is fueled by increases in funding for its core research
laboratories and by the establishment of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation
with $1 billion in mandatory funding. The NNMI seeks to promote the development of
manufacturing technologies with broad applications.
President Obama has requested increases in the R&D budgets of NIST, the
National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy’s Office of
Science that were targeted for doubling over 7 years, from their FY2006
levels, by the America COMPETES Act, and over 10 years by the America
COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. The FY2014 request breaks with President
Obama’s earlier budgets, which explicitly stated the goal of doubling funding
for these accounts over their FY2006 aggregate level. Instead the Office
of Science and Technology Policy asserts that the FY2014 request
“maintains the President’s commitment to increase funding for research at
these three science agencies.” The President’s FY2014 request sets a pace that
would result in doubling of the FY2006 level over a period of more than 17
years, much longer than authorized by either act.
The President’s FY2014 request continues support for three multi-agency R&D
initiatives in FY2014, proposing $1.704 billion for the National
Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a reduction of $159 million (8.6%) over
FY2012, due primarily to reductions in NNI funding at DOD and NSF; $3.968
billion for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD)
program, an increase of $159 million (4.2%) over FY2012; and $2.652 billion for
the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), an increase of $151
million (6.0%) over FY2012.
In recent years, Congress has used a variety of mechanisms to complete the
annual appropriations process after the start of the fiscal year. This may
affect agencies’ execution of their R&D budgets, including delaying or
canceling some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.
Date of Report: September 12, 2013
Number of Pages: 62 Order Number: R43086
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