|Division of Science Resources Studies|
|DATA BRIEF||Directorate for
Federal Funding Supports Moderate Growth for Basic Research in the 1990's
Federal funding for basic research in FY 1999 comprises 22.5 percent of the projected R&D total compared with its 18.2-percent share in FY 1992.
Federal agencies expect that universities and colleges will receive more than half of all Federal basic research funds in FY 1999.
Federal obligations for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant will increase an estimated 1.5 percent (0.5-percent decrease in inflation-adjusted 1992 dollars) from the previous year to $75.3 billion for fiscal year (FY) 1999, according to a survey of Federal agencies conducted in 1998 (table 1). However, agencies project a 4.8-percent increase in the research portion of the R&D total (a 2.8-percent increase in constant 1992 dollars) and a 1-percent decrease in combined development and R&D plant support (down 2.9 percent in real terms). Research will account for 43.8 percent of the total FY 1999 R&D money. Basic research support will reach almost $17 billion dollars (up 6.6 percent in current dollars or 4.5 percent in constant 1992 dollars), and applied research will total slightly more than $16 billion (up 3.0 percent or 1 percent in constant 1992 dollars), according to the preliminary estimates. As in the past, the Federal Government obligates the largest portion of R&D dollars for development: funding for development accounts for approximately 54 percent of the FY 1999 preliminary total R&D and R&D plant obligations. However, the development share of total R&D and R&D plant has been decreasing throughout the 1990's, having declined from its 64-percent share in FY 1990. Agencies expect development funds to drop 0.7 percent (down 2.7 percent in constant 1992 dollars) from their FY 1998 level, to $40.3 billion in FY 1999. R&D plant is slated to decrease 4.4 percent (down 6.3 percent in constant 1992 dollars) to nearly $2 billion. The statistics presented here are calculated from the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Annual Survey of Federal Funds for R&D, and are subject to change as Federal agencies' budgets are updated to reflect approved programs.
There is widespread support for basic research funding in both the Legislative and Executive branches of Government, as well as in academia and among scientific organizations. However, it is also recognized that such support needs to be balanced against budgetary constraints necessarily imposed on all Government projects, including R&D programs. The remainder of this Data Brief highlights recent survey data collected on Federal funding of basic research to better inform these ongoing budgetary discussions.
Agencies' Funding for Basic Research
The six leading agencies that provide 97 percent of the total Federal basic research funding in FY 1999 (figure 1) are the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of these six agencies, only NASA reports an expected current-dollar decrease in basic research funding for FY 1999, dropping 5.3 percent (down $119.1 million). Each of the other five agencies expects strong to modest increases in basic research funding: NSF (12.8 percent), DoD (8.9 percent), HHS (8.4 percent), DOE (7.2 percent), and USDA (1.8 percent).
After adjusting for inflation, HHS expects its obligations for basic research to average 3.5-percent annual growth from FYs 1990-99. Second fastest, NSF expects to increase basic research funding with 2.3 percent real dollar growth during the same time period. DOE reports a basic research average annual funding growth rate of nearly 2 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, and NASA reveals a nearly flat rate (0.4 percent). In constant 1992 dollars, DoD and USDA each expects slightly less funding for basic research in FY 1999 than was available in FY 1990.
Fields of Basic Research
Basic Research Performance
The data presented in this Data Brief are being released in advance of comprehensive Detailed Statistical Tables Report, Federal Funds for Research and Development: Fiscal Years 1997, 1998, and 1999, Volume 47.
This Data Brief was prepared by: