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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

General Notes

Data Tables

Appendix A. Agency and Budget Function Crosswalk

Suggested Citation, Acknowledgments

Richard J. Bennof,
Project Officer
(703) 292-7783
Research and Development Statistics Program

Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2008-10


General Notes


This annual report contains information on federal funding of the research and development and R&D plant components of U.S. federal agency programs, as proposed by the administration for FY 2010. R&D data in this report are classified into 15 functional categories. With one exception (see "Budget Functions," below), these are the same federal budget function categories used in the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2010, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Proposed FY 2010 funding levels are for budget authority (defined below), which is the basis for initial congressional action. Data reported here as preliminary or proposed will be revised in future budget function reports to reflect congressional appropriation and actual program-funding decisions.

Detailed data are included on preliminary estimates of federal funding of R&D for FY 2009. Preliminary estimates for FY 2009 funds appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are presented in tables as a separate column of data. This report also includes detailed data (by subfunction) on actual budget authority of R&D by federal agencies in FY 2008 and aggregate data (by broad function) on actual R&D budget authority in FY 2007 and earlier years.


Research, Development, and R&D Plant

In this report, R&D refers to research (both basic and applied) and development activities in the sciences and engineering.

Research is systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. Research is classified as either basic or applied according to the objective of the sponsoring agency.

  • Basic research is defined as systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications toward processes or products in mind.
  • Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.

Development is defined as systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements. It excludes quality control, routine product testing, and production.

Funds for conducting R&D include those for personnel, program supervision, and administrative support directly associated with R&D activities. Expendable or movable equipment needed to conduct R&D, for example, microscopes or spectrometers, is also included.

R&D plant includes such R&D facilities as reactors, wind tunnels, or particle accelerators or the construction, repair, or alteration of such facilities.

This report excludes all non-R&D activities performed within budget functions that conduct R&D and all functions in which no R&D is conducted.

Budget Authority, Obligations, and Outlays

The federal R&D funding data presented here, with a few noted exceptions, are provided in budget authority. Budget authority is used because it is the initial budget parameter for congressional action on the President's proposed budget. Budget authority imposes a ceiling on obligations and outlays; obligations and outlays flow from budget authority.

Budget authority is the primary source of legal authorization to enter into obligations that will result in outlays. Budget authority is most commonly granted in the form of appropriations by the congressional committees assigned to determine the budget for each function.

Obligations represent the amounts for orders placed, contracts awarded, services received, and similar transactions during a given period, regardless of when the funds were appropriated and when the future payment of money is required.

Outlays represent the amounts for checks issued and cash payments made during a given period, regardless of when the funds were appropriated or obligated.

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Budget Functions

All activities covered by the federal budget, including R&D, are classified into 20 broad functional categories. The federal budget total comprises funding for these 20 functions. An agency's programs typically are distributed across functions, and each function often includes programs from multiple agencies (see appendix A). No overlap occurs among functions or among the various agency programs within those functions. In a few cases, components of a major national effort are funded through multiple functions, such as the human genome activities, which are funded under the health and general science categories.

Notably, each specific R&D activity is assigned to only one function area, consistent with the official codes used in budget documents, even though the R&D activity may address several functional concerns. For example, except for those of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all R&D activities sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD) are classified as defense, even though some activities have secondary objectives, such as space or health. Moreover, only R&D activities funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor are classified in the health function category. Yet some R&D funding from at least three additional agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs—has a major health component.

The functional categories and definitions used in this report are the same as those used in the federal budget, with one exception. R&D activities categorized as general science, space, and technology (function 250) are reported in separate categories here. Subfunction 251 contains R&D activities for general science and basic research, and subfunction 252 contains R&D activities for space research and technology. However, not all federally sponsored basic research is categorized in subfunction 251; some basic research is included in 12 of the remaining 19 functional categories.

Five federal budget functions—Medicare (function 570), Social Security (function 650), net interest (function 900), allowances (function 920), and undistributed offsetting receipts (function 950)—have no R&D components. Consequently, they are not discussed in this report, except where R&D is described as a proportion of total federal budget authority.

For FY 2008–10, no R&D was appropriated or authorized for general government (function 800), as was the case in the last report. In previous years, small amounts of R&D were authorized for this budget function.

Appendix A lists the name and function code of the 15 individual R&D functions funded by federal agencies.

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Data Sources

Within the overall federal budget, there is no separately identified R&D budget as such nor are most appropriations for R&D so labeled except in the case of certain program areas, such as defense, energy, health, and environment. Consequently, most funds for R&D are not line items in agency budget submissions but are included within general program funding. To determine funding for federal R&D, OMB requires agencies with annual R&D funding greater than $10 million to submit data on their R&D programs as part of their annual budget submissions. Specifically, the agencies provide data on funding levels for basic research, applied research, development, R&D facilities, and capital equipment for R&D, reported in accordance with OMB Circular A-11, MAX Schedule C, "Research and Development Activities."

The data in this report represent agencies' best estimates of actual and proposed federal funding for R&D collected during the period between May and August 2009. These data are based primarily on information provided to OMB by 25 agencies and account for an estimated 99% of all federally sponsored R&D activities. Also included in this report is R&D information that became available from individual agencies after the administration's budget was prepared and reported in the Budget of the United States Government. This information consists of budget justification documents that agencies submit to Congress and supplemental, program-specific information obtained from agency budget and program staff through November 2009.

The FY 2009 data reflect agency estimates of final 2009 appropriations based on agency documents and OMB data through November 2009. FY 2009 supplemental appropriations were included in this report; therefore, budget numbers for individual activities, programs, or agencies may differ slightly from those published in the President's budget or in agency budget documents.

Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2008-10
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 10-317 | May 2010