The Evolution of US Federal Research Programs in the Global Context


2013-04-13 By Richard McCormack

The federal government’s R&D accounts are taking a big hit, as both the House and Senate have passed a budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year that includes “sequestration.”

Total federal spending on both defense and non-defense R&D will decline to $130.9 billion in 2013; a 6.9percent decrease from 2012’s budget of $140.6 billion (a cut of $9.63 billion).

It will be the third year in a row R&D has declined. In 2011, the federal government spent $144.4 billion on R&D.

The Defense Department’s research account will take a wallop, declining 9.4 percent from $74.5 billion in 2012 to $67.5 billion in 2013, a drop of $6.97 billion in one year.

In 2011, DOD’s R&D account was $79.1 billion. So in two years, DOD will experience a decline in R&D spending of $11.6 billion, or 17 percent.

While China invests, the United States government does not. Credit Image: Manufacturing News

Other agencies are not spared.

The National Institutes of Health’s R&D budget will decline by $1.44 billion in 2013, a drop of 4.8 percent from $30 billion in 2012, to $28.6 billion this year. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science will experience a decline of 5 percent (or $329 million), from $4.46 billion in 2012 to $4.24 billion in 2013.

NASA’s R&D budget will decline by 4 percent or by $372 million, from $9.4 billion in 2012 to $9.03 billion in 2013.

The National Science Foundation will have $136 million less for R&D in 2013, a drop of 2.4 percent to $5.478 billion.

The Commerce Department bucks the downward trend. Its R&D budget will increase by $70 million (or 5.5 percent,) to $1.334 billion.

DOD will take major hits in its R and D budgets in the period ahead. But the Department of Commerce is increasing its R and D budget. Credit Image: Bigstock 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will see its R&D budget increase by 5.9 percent to $588, up by $33 million from $555 million in 2012. Overall, NIST’s budget will be $621 million, with $128.5 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (for which the Obama administration requested $131 million in its FY 2013 budget request), and $14.5 million for the recently created Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program (for which the Obama administration requested $21 million).

The Environmental Protection Agency’s R&D account is projected to lose $53 million, a decline of 9.3 percent, to $515 million.

Total non-defense R&D will drop by 4.2 percent, from $61.8 billion in 2012 to $59.2 billion in 2013.

“In historical terms, when adjusted for inflation, these figures put federal R&D investment at its lowest point since fiscal year 2002, and more than $25 billion in constant dollars below the all-time peak in 2010,” says the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“This represents a roughly 17.1 percent decline in just three years.”

From Manufacturing News, March 29, 2013.