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Recovery Act Funding Boosts FY 2009 Federal R&D to an Estimated $157 Billion, 12% over FY 2008 Total

NSF 10-313 | March 2010 | PDF format. PDF  

by Richard J. Bennof[1]

Federal agencies have reported a preliminary total budget authority of $157 billion for federally funded research and development in FY 2009, an increase of 12.2% in current dollars over FY 2008 actual appropriations of $140 billion (table 1). This total represents $142.5 billion for FY 2009 R&D budget authority and $14.7 billion for FY 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (ARRA, public law 111-5)—the economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February 2009. ARRA funds were appropriated in FY 2009 but may be obligated in FY 2009 and later years. The FY 2009 preliminary totals are agency estimates of final 2009 appropriations based on agency documents and Office of Management and Budget data through November 2009.

TABLE 1. Federal R&D budget authority in order of FY 2010 proposed amounts, by funding category: FY 2004–10.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

With almost all (98%) of the ARRA funds scheduled for nondefense functions, nondefense R&D is up by 29.3% and defense R&D by 1.0%. In constant FY 2000 dollars, federally supported R&D increased 10.0% overall in FY 2009, with defense R&D decreasing by 1.0% and nondefense R&D growing by an estimated 26.7%. Fiscal year 2010 proposed R&D budget authority is $143 billion, comprising $83.7 billion for defense R&D and $59.2 billion for nondefense R&D.

Unless otherwise indicated, all references to dollar amounts or percentages for the remainder of this InfoBrief are in current dollars and all references to FY 2009 data include ARRA funds.

Defense R&D Funding

The preliminary defense component of federal R&D budget authority for FY 2009 is $85.6 billion (including $300 million in ARRA support), an increase of $882 million over the actual FY 2008 amount. The defense share of the FY 2009 preliminary R&D budget is 54.4%, down from its FY 2008 share of 60.5%. Despite a proposed decrease in FY 2010 national defense R&D, defense is expected to be 58.6% of total federal R&D in FY 2010.

The great majority of federal defense R&D (90% in FY 2010) is allocated for development, whereas the nondefense portion of the federal R&D budget is directed mostly toward funding research (85% in FY 2010).

Nearly 94% ($80.3 billion) of FY 2009 preliminary defense dollars is 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), account for 87% ($69.8 billion) of the RDT&E account.

TABLE 2. Federal research and development budget authority for national defense: FY 2006–10.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

Preliminary figures show the Air Force to be the largest recipient of defense R&D funding in FY 2009 ($26.5 billion, including $75 million in ARRA funds) but down by 0.5% from its FY 2008 level. DARPA (24.7%) and Department of the Navy (7.5%) show increases in preliminary FY 2009 funds (table 2).

Preliminary R&D funding for Department of Energy (DOE) atomic energy defense activities is at $3.5 billion in FY 2009, a decrease of 5.8%. Most of DOE defense R&D funding is for support of weapons activities (table 2).

Nondefense R&D Funding

Total nondefense R&D budget authority is up by $16.2 billion (29.3%) in FY 2009, with ARRA funding accounting for much of the increase. The estimated nondefense share of federal R&D budget authority is 45.6% in FY 2009 but drops to 41.4% in FY 2010 with the absence of ARRA funds. The six functions that account for most of the federal budget for nondefense-related R&D activities are discussed below and shown in table 1.


Preliminary FY 2009 R&D funding for health, which goes mostly to National Institutes of Health programs, is up by $10.8 billion (including $9.6 billion in ARRA funds) from the FY 2008 level, or by 37.0%. This represents the largest dollar increase for any individual nondefense R&D funding category. Health, listed at $39.8 billion in FY 2009, is the second largest R&D budget function after national defense.

In constant FY 2000 dollars, health R&D budget authority minus ARRA support increased in FY 2009 for the first time in 5 years. The health share of total federal R&D budget authority, 23% in FY 2004, had dipped to 21% by 2007 and remained there in FY 2008. With ARRA support, the health funding share is 25% in FY 2009; proposed FY 2010 numbers show a 22% share.

General Science

With $2.7 billion in ARRA support, preliminary research funding for general science is up 41.3% in FY 2009, or by $3.4 billion, to a total of $11.6 billion. Of the proposed FY 2010 total of $9.4 billion, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is expected to account for 51% ($4.8 billion); DOE and the Department of Homeland Security are expected to account for the remaining portion ($4.6 billion).

In constant 2000 dollars, general science funds have increased each year since FY 2006. Under the proposed FY 2010 budget, general science would account for 6.6% of the total federal R&D budget authority, down from 7.4% in FY 2009 but up from 5.9% in FY 2008.

Space Research and Technology

The preliminary FY 2009 total for space research and technology is $8.6 billion, 3.7% higher than the previous year. The Obama administration proposed $8.3 billion for space research and technology in FY 2010. National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs account for this entire amount. The share of R&D funding for space research and technology—estimated at 5.5% in FY 2009 and 5.8% in FY 2010—is down from its FY 2007 high of 6.5%.

Natural Resources and Environment

The preliminary FY 2009 natural resources and environment R&D number is $2.3 billion, up 8.9% ($187 million) from the FY 2008 level. Four agencies provide nearly all of the support for R&D in this area: the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, and Department of Agriculture (USDA).


The preliminary FY 2009 total for energy R&D is $2.9 billion, up 54.1% from the FY 2008 level. Because of ARRA support ($972 million), this represents the largest percentage increase for any individual nondefense R&D funding category. The Department of Energy accounts for nearly all of these funds. With a proposed FY 2010 energy R&D total of $2.0 billion, energy R&D budget authority will have increased in constant dollars by 56.5% since FY 2006.


Agriculture R&D is $1.9 billion in FY 2009, up by 3.4% from the FY 2008 funding level. The agriculture function has no ARRA support. The USDA receives all of these funds for its projects, with the bulk of the dollars going to the Agricultural Research Service and to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Data Comments and Availability

The figures used in this report, provided by federal agencies in November 2009, represent agencies' best estimates of actual (FY 2008), preliminary and ARRA (FY 2009), and proposed (FY 2010) federal budget authority for R&D. Budget authority is the primary source of legal authorization to enter into obligations that will result in outlays. These data, tabulated for NSF by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, are based primarily on information that agencies provide to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and account for nearly all federally sponsored R&D activities. The R&D budget figures reflect estimates of R&D based on agency documents and OMB data through November 2009. They include 2009 supplemental appropriations. Budget numbers for individual activities, programs, or agencies may therefore differ from those published in the President's budget or agency budget documents. Congressional actions determine the final budget authority for R&D in FY 2010.

A full set of detailed tables on the President's requested federal funding of R&D components of agency programs for FY 2008–10 will be available in the forthcoming report Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2008–10 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedbudget/. The report also contains R&D information that became available from the individual agencies after the administration's budget was prepared and reported. Individual detailed tables may be available in advance of the full report. For more information, please contact the author.


[1]  Richard J. Bennof, Research and Development Statistics Program, Division of Science Resources Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230, rbennof@nsf.gov; 703-292-7783.

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics
Recovery Act Funding Boosts FY 2009 Federal R&D to an Estimated $157 Billion,
12% over FY 2008 Total

Arlington, VA (NSF 10-313) [March 2010]

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