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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

General Notes

Data Tables

Appendix. Agency and Budget Function Crosswalk

Suggested Citation, Acknowledgements

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

Federal R&D Funding, by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2011–13


General Notes


This report contains data 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 FYs 2011, 2012, and 2013. All activities covered by the federal budget, including R&D, are classified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) into 20 broad functional categories (see “Budget Functions and Classifying R&D,” below). At present, R&D activities are present in 15 of these categories.

Data tables in this report provide R&D budget authority detail, by agency and major programs, for each of these categories. Several concluding tables also include budget authority figures for R&D in FY 2010 and earlier years.

The figures for FY 2011 are actual budget authority received by the federal agencies for R&D that year. Those for FY 2012 are preliminary, reflecting agency estimates of the final appropriations for the year. The FY 2013 figures are the administration’s proposed funding levels, based chiefly on the President’s Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013, but also reflecting agency documents and other OMB data available through July 2012. These proposed figures for FY 2013 are the basis for subsequent legislative activity in the U.S. Congress to enact the federal government’s annual budget.

Data reported here as “proposed” or “preliminary” will be revised in subsequent editions of this report to reflect the later congressional appropriation actions and agency program-funding decisions.


R&D 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. Development 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 stage 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.

Budget Functions and Classifying R&D

The federal budget total is the sum of funding across the 20 broad functional categories, identified by OMB. These categories are National defense (function 050); International affairs (150); General science, space, and technology (250); Energy (270); Natural resources and environment (300); Agriculture (350); Commerce and housing credit (370); Transportation (400); Community and regional development (450); Education, training, employment, and social services (500); Health (550); Medicare (570); Income security (600); Social Security (650); Veterans benefits and services (700); Administration of justice (750); General government (800); Net interest (900); Allowances (920); and Undistributed offsetting receipts (950).

  • R&D has never been reported in 4 of these 20 functions: Social Security (650), Net interest (900), Allowances (920), and Undistributed offsetting receipts (950). As such, data on these categories are not present in this report—except indirectly, where R&D is described as a proportion of total federal budget authority.
  • Through FY 2002, small amounts of R&D were reported in the General government (800) category. But R&D has not been reported in this category since then and thus does not appear in this report.
  • To better highlight R&D areas of high interest, the data tables in this report split the General science, space, and technology (250) category into its two subfunctions: General science and basic research (251), and Space flight, research, and supporting activities (252).

Thus, this report’s data tables separately cover 16 functional categories: 14 at the broad functional category level, and 2 at the subcategory level.

Each specific R&D activity is assigned to only one functional category that is consistent with the official codes used in budget documents, even though the R&D activity may address the objectives of several functions. For example, all R&D activities sponsored by the Department of Defense (except for those of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) are classified as National defense (050), even though some of these have secondary objectives, such as Space flight, research, and supporting activities (252) or Health (550). Nonetheless, an agency’s overall R&D effort can involve multiple activities spread across several functional categories, which means that a functional category can show the presence of several agencies. For example, the federal funding for the past national project to map the human genome, which involved the activities of several agencies and a number of R&D programs, appeared in both the Health (550) and the General science and basic research (251) categories.

Finally, not all federally sponsored basic research is categorized in the General science and basic research (251) subfunction. Some basic research is included in many of the other functional categories. Also, not all of R&D included in subfunction 251 is basic research; some is applied research.

The appendix maps the mix of agency funding of R&D activities across the 16 budget functions.

Data Sources

The federal budget does not include a separately identified R&D account. Additionally, most appropriations for R&D are not directly labeled as such (except in certain program areas, e.g., National defense, Energy, Health, and National resources and environment). Most funds for R&D are not line items in agency budget submissions but, rather, are included as part of general program funding.

To provide information on federal R&D funding, OMB requires all agencies with annual R&D funding levels greater than $10 million to submit data on their R&D programs as part of their annual budget submissions. Each such agency is requested to provide data on funding levels for basic research, applied research, development, R&D facilities, and capital equipment for R&D, in accordance with OMB’s Circular A-11, MAX Schedule C, “Research and Development Activities” (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/a11_current_year/s84.pdf).

The data in this report were collected between February and July 2012 and represent the agencies’ best estimates of actual and proposed federal funding for R&D over the FY 2011–13 period. The 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. The data reflect R&D funding information that became available from individual agencies after the administration’s budget was prepared and released in the February 2012 publication of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013. This later information consists of budget justification documents that agencies submit to Congress and of supplemental, program-specific information obtained from agency budget and program staff collected through July 2012. Therefore, the budget numbers reported for individual activities, programs, or agencies may differ slightly from those published in the President’s budget or in agency budget documents.

Federal R&D Funding, by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2011–13
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 13-308 | January 2013