by Michael Yamaner[1]

Data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) show funds obligated by federal agencies for research and development and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment) dropped from $141 billion to $127 billion, or 9%, in current dollars from FY 2012 to FY 2013. Research, development, and R&D plant funding fell—by 4%, 14%, and 11%, respectively—in current-dollar terms from FY 2012. Federal obligations for R&D and R&D plant are estimated to rise 3% ($4 billion in current dollars) in FY 2014 and are projected to rise 2% in FY 2015 by $3 billion in current dollars (table 1).

The data presented here are from the NSF Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development: FYs 2013–15. Data reported for FY 2013 are actual, data for FY 2014 are preliminary, and data for FY 2015 are projected.

TABLE 1. Federal obligations for research and development and R&D plant, by character of work: FYs 2011–15

NOTES: Gross domestic product implicit price deflators for 2009 were used to convert current to constant dollars. Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Character of work 2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
Current $millions Constant 2009 $millions
All R&D and R&D plant 139,662 140,636 127,297 130,808 133,740 135,805 134,400 119,843 121,332 121,959
R&D 135,491 138,485 125,388 128,588 130,637 131,749 132,344 118,046 119,273 119,129
Research 58,024 61,947 59,200 62,663 62,595 56,422 59,200 55,733 58,124 57,081
Basic 29,314 30,959 29,779 31,602 31,456 28,504 29,586 28,035 29,313 28,685
Applied 28,710 30,988 29,420 31,061 31,140 27,917 29,614 27,697 28,811 28,397
Development 77,467 76,538 66,188 65,925 68,041 75,328 73,144 62,312 61,149 62,047
R&D plant 4,171 2,151 1,910 2,220 3,103 4,056 2,056 1,798 2,059 2,830

Federal Funding for Research and Development, by Agency

This section covers obligated funds, by selected agency, for federal R&D performed by agencies (intramural R&D), and federally-funded R&D performed by others. Overall FY 2013 federally-funded R&D performed by industry amounts to $50 billion (40%) and intramural R&D activities total $33 billion (26%) (table 2). As discussed below, agency-specific distributions by type of performer vary considerably.

TABLE 2. Total federal obligations for research and development, by performer and percentage distribution: FYs 2011–15
(Current dollars in millions)

FFRDC = federally funded research and development center.

NOTE: Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

2014 2015 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Agency and performer 2011 2012 2013 preliminary projected % distribution
All agencies, all performers 135,491 138,485 125,388 128,588 130,637 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Intramural 35,145 34,368 32,965 33,211 32,386 25.9 24.8 26.3 25.8 24.8
Industry 53,550 58,910 49,538 50,963 52,945 39.5 42.5 39.5 39.6 40.5
FFRDCs 10,786 10,058 10,080 10,277 11,092 8.0 7.3 8.0 8.0 8.5
Universities and colleges 27,680 27,510 25,772 26,960 26,978 20.4 19.9 20.6 21.0 20.7
Other nonprofit institutions 6,637 6,347 5,915 6,010 6,021 4.9 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.6
State and local governments 716 453 386 381 412 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Foreign 977 840 732 787 804 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DOD) accounted for 51% ($64 billion in current dollars) of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013. DOD R&D obligations fell by 14% in current dollars ($10 billion) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. DOD is the largest federal funder of intramural R&D (61%) and of industry-performed R&D (79%). DOD's industry-performed R&D decreased 19% ($9 billion in current dollars) in FY 2013. Total DOD R&D funding is estimated to have increased less than one percent ($47 million in current dollars) in FY 2014 and is projected to increase 3% ($2 billion) in FY 2015 (table 3).

TABLE 3. Federal obligations for research and development, by performer and selected agency: FYs 2011–15

* = amount greater than $0 but less than $500,000.

FFRDC = federally funded research and development center.

a Includes data for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Agency for International Development; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Communications Commission; the Federal Trade Commission; the Library of Congress; the National Archives and Records Administration; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Social Security Administration.

NOTES: Gross domestic product implicit price deflators for 2009 were used to convert current to constant dollars. Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

Agency and performer 2011 2012 2013 2014 preliminary 2015 projected 2011 2012 2013 2014 preliminary 2015 projected
Current $millions Constant 2009 $millions
All agencies, all performers 135,491 138,485 125,388 128,588 130,637 131,749 132,344 118,046 119,273 119,129
Department of Defense
All performers 75,157 73,804 63,558 63,605 65,291 73,081 70,531 59,836 58,997 59,539
Intramural 23,074 20,512 20,243 19,522 19,030 22,437 19,602 19,058 18,108 17,354
Industry 45,040 48,145 39,215 39,911 42,225 43,796 46,010 36,919 37,020 38,505
FFRDCs 2,435 1,682 1,206 1,097 1,088 2,368 1,607 1,135 1,018 992
Universities and colleges 2,705 2,493 2,073 2,206 2,086 2,630 2,382 1,952 2,046 1,902
Other nonprofit institutions 839 416 389 373 369 816 398 366 346 336
State and local governments 400 54 27 38 21 389 52 25 35 19
Foreign 665 503 405 458 472 647 481 381 425 430
Department of Health and Human Services
All performers 30,849 31,196 29,383 30,282 30,474 29,997 29,813 27,662 28,088 27,790
Intramural 5,693 6,449 6,086 6,276 6,277 5,536 6,163 5,730 5,821 5,724
Industry 1,769 1,681 1,468 1,499 1,497 1,720 1,606 1,382 1,390 1,365
FFRDCs 530 361 449 464 468 515 345 423 430 427
Universities and colleges 17,727 17,584 16,542 17,066 17,214 17,237 16,804 15,573 15,830 15,698
Other nonprofit institutions 4,758 4,674 4,423 4,556 4,595 4,627 4,467 4,164 4,226 4,190
State and local governments 119 185 151 152 152 116 177 142 141 139
Foreign 254 262 263 270 271 247 250 248 250 247
National Air and Space Administration
All performers 6,571 10,661 10,368 10,932 10,538 6,390 10,188 9,761 10,140 9,610
Intramural 1,037 1,684 1,576 1,643 1,571 1,008 1,609 1,484 1,524 1,433
Industry 3,901 6,221 6,205 6,571 6,342 3,793 5,945 5,842 6,095 5,783
FFRDCs 856 1,336 1,328 1,461 1,409 832 1,277 1,250 1,355 1,285
Universities and colleges 573 970 879 930 907 557 927 828 863 827
Other nonprofit institutions 199 418 361 308 291 194 399 340 286 265
State and local governments 1 5 2 2 2 1 5 2 2 2
Foreign 4 27 17 17 16 4 26 16 16 15
Department of Energy
All performers 9,946 9,952 9,841 10,365 11,023 9,671 9,511 9,265 9,614 10,052
Intramural 697 880 538 774 630 678 841 506 718 575
Industry 1,613 1,671 1,632 1,819 1,749 1,568 1,597 1,536 1,687 1,595
FFRDCs 6,446 6,285 6,692 6,760 7,651 6,268 6,006 6,300 6,270 6,977
Universities and colleges 1,009 962 864 907 909 981 919 813 841 829
Other nonprofit institutions 163 139 100 88 72 158 133 94 82 66
State and local governments 15 14 13 16 12 15 13 12 15 11
Foreign 4 2 2 1 * 4 2 2 1 *
National Science Foundation
All performers 5,146 5,170 4,956 5,163 5,178 5,004 4,941 4,666 4,789 4,722
Intramural 84 88 18 18 18 82 84 17 17 16
Industry 295 286 208 216 219 287 273 196 200 200
FFRDCs 211 203 207 215 216 205 194 195 199 197
Universities and colleges 4,101 4,103 4,083 4,254 4,265 3,988 3,921 3,844 3,946 3,889
Other nonprofit institutions 403 437 408 425 427 392 418 384 394 389
State and local governments 21 25 15 15 15 20 24 14 14 14
Foreign 30 28 18 19 19 29 27 17 18 17
Other agenciesa
All performers 7,823 7,703 7,283 8,242 8,132 7,607 7,361 6,857 7,645 7,416

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accounted for 23% of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013 ($29 billion in current dollars). HHS R&D obligations fell 6% ($2 billion in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. HHS is the largest federal R&D funder of universities and colleges (64%) and also of other nonprofit institutions (75%) in FY 2013. HHS R&D funding to both of these performing sectors decreased by 6% and 5% respectively in FY 2013. Total HHS R&D funding is estimated to have increased 3% ($899 million in current dollars) in FY 2014 and is projected to increase 1% ($192 million) in FY 2015 (table 3).

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accounted for 8% ($10 billion in current dollars) of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013. NASA R&D obligations fell 3% ($293 million in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013 with intramural and university and college performers showing the largest current-dollar decreases ($108 million and $91 million, respectively). Total NASA R&D funding is estimated to have increased 5% ($564 million in current dollars) in FY 2014 and is projected to decrease 4% ($394 million) in FY 2015 (table 3).

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) (8% of total FY 2013 R&D obligations) showed a small percentage decrease in R&D obligations at 1% ($111 million in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. While DOE's overall R&D obligations fell in FY 2013, its obligations to federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) increased 6% ($407 million in current dollars). DOE sponsors 15 FFRDCs, the most of any federal agency.[2] Total DOE R&D funding is estimated to have increased 5% ($524 million in current dollars) in FY 2014 and is projected to increase 6% ($658 million) in FY 2015 (table 3).

National Science Foundation

NSF accounted for 4% ($5 billion in current dollars) of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013. NSF R&D obligations fell 4% ($214 million in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. NSF obligated 82% of its R&D funding to university and college performers in FY 2013. NSF's funding to these performers decreased less than one percent ($20 million in current dollars) in FY 2013. Total NSF R&D funding is estimated to have increased 4% ($207 million in current dollars) in FY 2014 and is projected to increase less than one percent ($15 million) in FY 2015 (table 3).

Federal Funding for Research

Federal obligations for research decreased 4% ($3 billion in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. HHS, which accounted for 50% of federal research obligations in FY 2013, had the largest current-dollar decrease between FY 2012 and 2013 at $2 billion, followed by DOD (down $708 million). NSF's research funding was down $214 million, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) was down $97 million, and DOE's was down $28 million.

With a 6% increase ($322 million), NASA was the only one of the top six research funding agencies to show an improvement in funding. Federal research funding is estimated to have increased 6% ($3 billion in current dollars) in FY 2014 but is projected to decrease less than one percent ($68 million) in FY 2015 (table 4).

TABLE 4. Federal obligations for research, by selected agency in FY 2013 rank order: FYs 2011–15

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation; USDA = U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NOTES: Gross domestic product implicit price deflators for 2009 were used to convert current to constant dollars. Detail may not sum to total due to rounding. Other agencies includes the Departments of Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Agency for International Development; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Communications Commission; the Federal Trade Commission; the Library of Congress; the National Archives and Records Administration; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Social Security Administration.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

Agency 2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
Current $millions Constant 2009 $millions
All agencies 58,024 61,947 59,200 62,663 62,595 56,422 59,200 55,733 58,124 57,081
Basic 29,314 30,959 29,779 31,602 31,456 28,504 29,586 28,035 29,313 28,685
Applied 28,710 30,988 29,420 31,061 31,140 27,917 29,614 27,697 28,811 28,397
HHS 30,771 31,124 29,315 30,216 30,411 29,921 29,744 27,598 28,027 27,732
Basic 16,066 15,977 15,288 15,742 15,858 15,622 15,269 14,393 14,602 14,461
Applied 14,704 15,147 14,026 14,474 14,553 14,298 14,475 13,205 13,425 13,271
DOE 7,350 7,361 7,333 7,680 8,144 7,147 7,035 6,904 7,124 7,427
Basic 3,962 3,957 3,851 4,102 4,174 3,853 3,782 3,625 3,805 3,806
Applied 3,388 3,404 3,482 3,579 3,970 3,294 3,253 3,278 3,320 3,620
DOD 6,596 6,663 5,955 6,826 6,498 6,414 6,368 5,606 6,332 5,926
Basic 1,885 2,036 1,863 2,094 2,034 1,833 1,946 1,754 1,942 1,855
Applied 4,710 4,627 4,093 4,732 4,464 4,580 4,422 3,853 4,389 4,071
NASA 1,575 5,100 5,422 5,823 5,406 1,532 4,874 5,105 5,401 4,930
Basic 857 2,606 2,824 3,343 3,080 833 2,490 2,659 3,101 2,809
Applied 718 2,494 2,598 2,481 2,326 698 2,383 2,446 2,301 2,121
NSF 5,146 5,170 4,956 5,163 5,178 5,004 4,941 4,666 4,789 4,722
Basic 4,691 4,652 4,362 4,549 4,553 4,561 4,446 4,107 4,219 4,152
Applied 455 517 594 614 625 442 494 559 570 570
USDA 2,125 1,966 1,869 2,215 2,131 2,066 1,879 1,760 2,055 1,943
Basic 963 851 844 993 960 936 813 795 921 875
Applied 1,162 1,114 1,025 1,222 1,171 1,130 1,065 965 1,133 1,068
Other 4,462 4,563 4,349 4,739 4,829 4,339 4,361 4,094 4,396 4,404
Basic 890 879 747 780 798 865 840 703 723 728
Applied 3,572 3,683 3,602 3,958 4,031 3,473 3,520 3,391 3,671 3,676

Basic Research

Federal obligations for basic research declined 4% ($1 billion in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Five of the six agencies funding the most basic research in FY 2013 (HHS, 51% of total; NSF, 15%; DOE, 13%; DOD, 6%; and USDA, 3%) each reported current-dollar decreases between FY 2012 and FY 2013. NASA accounted for 10% of federal basic research obligations in FY 2013 and reported a 8% ($218 million in current dollars) increase in basic research funding between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Federal basic research funding is estimated to have increased 6% ($1 billion in current dollars) in FY 2014 but is projected to decrease less than one percent ($146 million) in FY 2015 (table 4).

Applied Research

Federal obligations for applied research decreased 5% ($2 billion in current dollars) between FY 2012 and FY 2013. HHS, DOD, and USDA accounted for 65% of federal applied research obligations in FY 2013. In current dollars, applied research obligations for these agencies decreased by $1 billion, $534 million, and $89 million, respectively, between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Applied research obligations increased for NASA, DOE, and NSF by a combined $259 million in current dollars between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Federal applied research funding is estimated to have increased 6% ($2 billion in current dollars) in FY 2014 and projected to increase less than one percent ($79 million) in FY 2015 (table 4).

Research, by Broad Field of Science and Engineering

Six of the eight broad fields of science and engineering (S&E) experienced decreased federal research funding between FY 2012 and FY 2013. The two fields experiencing the largest current-dollar decreases were life sciences (down $2 billion, or 5%) and engineering (down $455 million, or 4%). Two broad fields saw increased federal research funding between FY 2012 and FY 2013: social sciences (rose $112 million, or 10%) and environmental sciences (rose $157 million, or 4%) (table 5).

TABLE 5. Federal obligations for research, by broad field of science and engineering in FY 2013 rank order: FYs 2011–15
(Millions of dollars)

nec = not elsewhere classified.

a "Other sciences nec" is used for multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary projects that cannot be classified within one of the broad fields of science.

NOTES: Gross domestic product implicit price deflators for 2009 were used to convert current to constant dollars. Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development.

Table 5 Source Data: Excel file

Field 2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
2011 2012 2013 2014
preliminary
2015
projected
Current $millions Constant 2009 $millions
All fields 58,024 61,947 59,200 62,663 62,595 56,422 59,200 55,733 58,124 57,081
Life sciences 29,409 30,967 29,330 30,531 30,596 28,597 29,594 27,613 28,319 27,901
Engineering 10,057 11,403 10,948 11,496 11,650 9,779 10,897 10,307 10,663 10,624
Physical sciences 5,427 6,408 6,282 6,559 6,400 5,277 6,124 5,914 6,084 5,836
Environmental sciences 3,207 3,884 4,041 4,331 4,183 3,118 3,712 3,804 4,017 3,815
Computer sciences and mathematics 3,374 3,528 3,427 3,777 3,879 3,281 3,372 3,226 3,503 3,537
Other sciences neca 3,401 2,546 1,999 2,554 2,542 3,307 2,433 1,882 2,369 2,318
Psychology 1,887 2,087 1,935 1,986 2,014 1,835 1,994 1,822 1,842 1,837
Social sciences 1,262 1,125 1,237 1,431 1,332 1,227 1,075 1,165 1,327 1,215

In FY 2013, three broad fields of S&E received 79% of FY 2013 total federal research dollars: life sciences (50% of total research obligations), engineering (18%), and physical sciences (11%) (table 5).

Data Notes

The data presented here are from the NSF Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development. The 27 federal agencies that report R&D obligations to the survey submitted actual obligations for FY 2013, preliminary data for FY 2014, and projected data for FY 2015. Data were requested from agencies beginning in February 2013. Agencies later revise the preliminary data based on actual changes in the funding levels of R&D programs, and agencies may provide changes in prior-year data to reflect program reclassifications or other data corrections.

Definitions

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.

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.

Development is defined as systematic application of knowledge or understanding that is 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.

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 of when future payment of money is required.

Data Availability

The full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available in the report Federal Funds for Research and Development: Fiscal Years 2013–15 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedfunds/. Individual detailed tables from the FYs 2013–15 survey may be available in advance of the full report. For more information, please contact the author.

Notes

[1] Michael Yamaner, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (myamaner@nsf.gov; 703-292-7815).

[2] For a description of the federal guidelines and definitions governing FFRDCs, see the General Notes section of the NSF's Master Government List of FFRDCs at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/#gennotes. Current and previous versions of the Master Government List of FFRDCs are accessible at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/.