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News Release 15-054

Latest figures show decline in federal funding for R&D, equipment, facilities in FY 2013

Projections show rising federal agency obligations in FY 2014 and FY 2015


NCSES found federal agency funding for R&D, facilities and equipment fell by 9 percent.

May 14, 2015

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Federal agency funding for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment used for R&D) fell by 9 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2013, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

NCSES found that total federal agency obligations dropped from $141 billion to $127 billion between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Funding dropped by 4 percent for research, 14 percent for development and 11 percent for R&D plant, according to the NCSES report.

The FY 2013 figures represent the most recent actual data available. Estimates project that combined funding for R&D and R&D plant will rise by 3 percent ($4 billion) in FY 2014 and 2 percent ($3 billion) in FY 2015.

Changes in agency obligation levels between FY 2012 and FY 2013 include the following:

  • 14 percent drop ($10 billion) at the Department of Defense, which accounted for just over half of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013
  • 6 percent drop ($2 billion) at the Department of Health and Human Services, which accounted for 23 percent of federal R&D obligations
  • 3 percent drop at NASA, which accounted for 8 percent of federal R&D obligations
  • 1 percent drop at the Department of Energy, which accounted for 8 percent of federal R&D obligations
  • 4 percent drop at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which accounted for 4 percent of federal R&D obligations

NCSES found that federal obligations for basic research declined by 4 percent. Basic research obligations are estimated to increase by 6 percent in FY 2014, then decrease by less than 1 percent in FY 2015.

Please visit NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) for more reports and other products.


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Michael Yamaner, NSF, (703) 292-7815, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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