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News Release 16-045

Federal research funding up 6 percent in FY2014

Obligations for both basic and applied research rise

microchip and integrated circuits

Obligations for basic research increased to $31.6 billion; applied research rose to $31.3 billion.

April 20, 2016

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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 funding for research rose by $3.7 billion, or 6 percent, between fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

A $1.3 billion increase in research obligations by the Department of Health and Human Services drove much of the upswing in funding. Federal FY2014 obligations for research totaled $62.9 billion.

Preliminary data indicates that federal research funding remained relatively flat at $63.4 billion in FY2015, and then increased by $2.7 billion, to $66.2 billion, in FY2016.

Obligations for basic research, which focuses on fundamental scientific exploration, increased 6 percent, to $31.6 billion. Obligations for applied research, which focuses on gaining knowledge or understanding to meet a specific need, also increased by 6 percent, to $31.3 billion.

Changes in research funding at specific agencies from FY2013 to FY2014 included:

  • Department of Health and Human Services research funding increased by 4 percent, to $30.6 billion.
  • Department of Energy research funding increased by 10 percent, to $8.1 billion.
  • Department of Defense research funding increased by 13 percent, to $6.7 billion.
  • The National Science Foundation's research funding increased by 9 percent, to $5.4 billion.
  • NASA research funding decreased by 2 percent, to $5.3 billion.

Research accounted for 47 percent of all federal funding for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment). Development accounted for 51 percent, while R&D plant made up the remainder.

The NCSES report found that from FY2013 to FY2014, federal R&D funding rose by 4 percent, to $130 billion. Preliminary numbers indicate those R&D obligations would fall by 1 percent in FY2015, and then increase by 6 percent in FY2016, to $137.7 billion.

For more information, including the amounts that funding agencies provided for specific areas of science and engineering research, read the full InfoBrief.


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, 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 2023 budget of $9.5 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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