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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

Mark Boroush,
Project Officer
(703) 292-8726
Research and Development Statistics Program

Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2010–12


General Notes


This report contains information on the budget authority (see "Definitions" below) of U.S. federal agencies to fund the research and development and R&D plant components of their programs in FY 2012 and the two preceding fiscal years. The figures for FY 2012 are the administration's proposed funding levels, based on the President's Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012, agency documents, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data through October 2011. These figures are the basis for the subsequent legislative activity in the Congress on the federal government’s annual budget.

The figures for FY 2011 are preliminary, reflecting agency estimates of the final appropriations for the year. Data reported here as proposed or preliminary will be revised in subsequent editions of this report to reflect later congressional appropriation actions and agency program-funding decisions.

The data for FY 2010 are actual budget authority received by the federal agencies for R&D that year.

Several concluding tables provide aggregate data on actual federal budget authority for R&D by broad function for FY 2009 and earlier years. (R&D funds appropriated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 are part of budget authority for FY 2009 and are documented in the previous edition of this report. The ARRA funding figures listed in the earlier edition are unchanged at the time of this report.)

The R&D data in this report are classified into 16 functional categories. With one exception (see "Budget Functions," below), these are the same federal budget function categories in the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012, prepared by OMB. No R&D was appropriated or authorized for general government (function 800) for FY 2010–12, as was the case in the last report. In previous years, small amounts of R&D were authorized for this budget function.


Research, Development, and R&D Plant

In this report, R&D refers to basic research, applied research, 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.

The data exclude 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 terms of 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. Four federal budget functions—Social Security (function 650), net interest (function 900), allowances (function 920), and undistributed offsetting receipts (function 950)—have never reported 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.

An agency's programs typically are distributed across functions, and each function often includes programs from multiple agencies (see appendix A). All funding is assigned to a single function, that is, there is no overlap among functions or among the various agency programs within those functions. Nonetheless, in a few cases, components of a major national effort may be funded through multiple functions, such as the past human genome activities, which were 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, the Department of Labor, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission 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 generally are the same as those used in the federal budget. The one exception is R&D activities categorized as general science, space, and technology—which are reported together as function 250 in the federal budget, but are separate categories here. Subfunction 251 contains R&D activities for general science and basic research; subfunction 252 contains R&D activities for space research and technology. (Not all federally sponsored basic research is categorized in subfunction 251—some basic research is included in 10 of the other 19 functional categories. Also, not all research categorized in subfunction 251 is basic research; some is applied research.)

Appendix A lists the name and function code of the 16 individual R&D functions funded by federal agencies.

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Data Sources

The overall federal budget does not include a separately identified R&D budget. Furthermore, most appropriations for R&D are not labeled as such, except in 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 proposed and actual federal funding for R&D collected during the period between February and October 2011. These data are based primarily on information provided to OMB by 26 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 publicly released in the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012. 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 October 2011. 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.

The FY 2011 data reflect agency estimates of final 2011 appropriations based on agency documents and OMB data through October 2011. The FY 2010 data are actual budget authority received by the federal agencies for R&D that year—and are again based on agency documents and OMB data through October 2011.

Federal R&D Funding by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2010–12
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 12-322 | August 2012