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President's FY 2008 Budget Requests 1% Increase in R&D Funding

NSF 07-327 | July 2007 | PDF format PDF  

The Bush administration has proposed a total budget authority of $138 billion for federally supported research and development (R&D) in FY 2008, an increase of 1.0% in current dollars over the preliminary FY 2007 figure of $137 billion (table 1). Defense R&D is slated to rise by nearly 1% and nondefense R&D by 1.1%. In constant FY 2000 dollars, federally supported R&D is expected to decrease 1.4% in FY 2008, with drops in both defense and nondefense R&D.

TABLE 1. Federal R&D budget authority, by budget function: FY 2003–08.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Unless otherwise indicated, all references to dollar amounts or percentages for the remainder of this InfoBrief are in current dollars.

Proposed Defense R&D Funding

The defense component of the federal R&D budget authority is expected to be $82.4 billion, an increase of $0.7 billion over FY 2007 amounts. This relatively small growth represents a change in the recent trend of annual increases in the defense share of federal R&D budget authority: from 56% in FY 2003 to 60% in FY 2007. The proposed defense R&D budget would keep the defense share of total federal R&D level with the FY 2007 share. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the great majority of federal defense R&D (89% in FY 2008) is allocated for development, whereas the nondefense portion of the federal R&D budget is directed mostly toward funding research (79% in FY 2008).[1]

About 95% ($78.0 billion) of FY 2008 defense dollars will be funded from Department of Defense (DOD) military research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) programs (table 2). The Air Force, Army, Navy, and two defense agencies, the Missile Defense Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will account for nearly 88% ($68.4 billion) of the RDT&E account.

TABLE 2. Federal research and development budget authority for national defense: FY 2005–08.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

The Air Force is slated to get the largest portion of defense R&D funding ($28 billion), up $3.6 billion, or 14.6%, over the FY 2007 level. According to the AAAS (AAAS 2007, p. 63), the Air Force increases are for "various space and classified weapons development programs, including war-related supplemental requests."

Decreases in R&D funding levels are expected for each of the other DOD departments, ranging from 1.0% to 7.6% (table 2).

A 6.2% increase in R&D funding, to $3.4 billion in FY 2008, is slated for Department of Energy (DOE) atomic energy defense activities, mainly for support of weapons activities (table 2). Proposed defense R&D at the Department of Homeland Security is $175 million in FY 2008, a decrease of 40.9% from FY 2007 funding and only about half of its FY 2005 funding level.

Proposed Nondefense R&D Funding

Total nondefense R&D budget authority is expected to increase by $0.6 billion, to $55.9 billion in FY 2008. The nondefense share of federal R&D budget authority has decreased from 44% in FY 2003 to 40% in FY 2007 and remains at that level for FY 2008. The six functions accounting for most (92%) of the federal budget proposed for nondefense-related R&D activities are discussed below and are shown in table 1.


R&D funding for health primarily includes programs of the National Institutes of Health and is scheduled to decrease by $0.2 billion from the FY 2007 level. This will be the second time in the past 3 years that R&D funding for health has fallen from one year to the next. Health, projected to be $29.2 billion in FY 2008, is the second largest budget function after national defense. The health share of total federal R&D budget authority reached 24% in FY 2003 and has dropped each year since. Its share in FY 2008 is expected to be 21%.


The Bush administration has proposed a 6.4% increase in R&D budget authority, to $9.5 billion, for space research and technology, an increase of almost $0.6 billion from FY 2007. National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs account for the entire space research and technology budget. The share of R&D funding for space research and technology fell from 6.5% in FY 2003 to 5.8% in FY 2005 but has increased each year since and is expected to be 6.9% of the proposed total federal R&D budget authority in FY 2008.

General Science

Research funding for general science is expected to increase 7.9% in FY 2008, or by nearly $0.6 billion, to a total of $7.8 billion. NSF accounts for 56% ($4.4 billion) of these general-science funds and DOE accounts for the remaining portion ($3.4 billion). Under the proposed budget, general science would account for 5.6% of the total federal R&D budget authority, up from 5.2% in FY 2007.


Natural resources and environment R&D is budgeted at $1.9 billion in FY 2008, up 0.6% ($12 million) from the FY 2007 level. Four agencies provide nearly all of the support for R&D in this area: Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Agriculture R&D is slated to total $1.6 billion in FY 2008, down by 10.7% from the FY 2007 funding level. USDA would receive all of these funds for its projects, with the bulk of the dollars going to the Agricultural Research Service and to the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.


Energy R&D is budgeted at $1.5 billion in FY 2008, down 7.1% from the FY 2007 level. The Department of Energy accounted for nearly all of these funds.

Data Notes

Details on the President's requested federal funding of the R&D components of agency programs for FY 2006–08 will be available in the forthcoming report Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2006–08 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedbudget/. These figures, reported by federal agencies between February and April 2007, represent agencies' best estimates of actual (FY 2006), preliminary (FY 2007), and proposed (FY 2008) federal funding for R&D. These data are based primarily on information that agencies provide to the Office of Management and Budget and account for nearly all federally sponsored R&D activities. The report also contains R&D information that became available from the individual agencies after the administration's budget was prepared and reported. Such information consists of agency budget-justification documents submitted to Congress and supplemental, program-specific information obtained from agency budget and program staff through April 2007. Budget numbers for individual activities, programs, or agencies may therefore differ from those published in the President's budget or agency budget documents. Pending congressional action will determine the final budget authority for R&D in FY 2008.

A full set of detailed tables will be available in the forthcoming report, cited above. Individual detailed tables may be available in advance of the full report.

For more information, contact

Richard J. Bennof
Research and Development Statistics Program
Division of Science Resources Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230



[1]  AAAS, Intersociety Working Group. 2007. AAAS Report XXXII: Research and Development FY 2008. AAAS Publication Number 07-1A. Washington, DC. Available at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/rd08main.htm.

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics
President's FY 2008 Budget Requests 1% Increase in R&D Funding
Arlington, VA (NSF 07-327) [July 2007]

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