A First Look at the FY 2015 R&D Budget

The President's FY 15 budget request to Congress is now available for download via the Office of Management and Budget. Agencies have also begun releasing budget information, but detailed justifications are still to be issued for most. AAAS will continue to provide updates.

Some basic facts about the President's budget request: 

  • The budget proposes $3.9 trillion in total outlays. Of this total, roughly 63 percent is mandatory spending, and roughly 30 percent is discretionary spending (the rest is net interest - see chart at right).
  • This represents continued growth in the mandatory budget relative to the discretionary budget, which accounts for most R&D. By comparison, in FY 2010, the split was 55 percent mandatory, 39 percent discretionary. In FY 1990, the split was 45 percent versus 40 percent. CBO expects this divergence to continue.
  • The expected deficit is pegged at $564 billion, an improvement from last year.
  • The budget matches the $1.014 trillion discretionary spending cap agreed to by Congress in December. However, the President has also proposed additional discretionary spending on top of this cap, via what's being called the "Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative." This extra spending amounts to $56 billion, split between defense and nondefense, and does include additional research and education spending. More on this below.

R&D in the President's Budget 

Data from this point forward comes from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It will be revised and updated following additional AAAS analysis and agency reporting, though the broad strokes are what they are.

  • Total R&D would amount to $135.4 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion or 1.2 percent above FY 2014 levels. This also represents a $5 billion or 3.9 percent increase above FY 2013 sequester levels.
  • However, this does not account for inflation, expected to reach 1.7 percent this year. That means total R&D would actually decline slightly in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Defense R&D would increase by 1.7 percent above FY 2014 levels, while nondefense R&D would increase by 0.7 percent; again, the latter figure would fail to keep pace with inflation.
  • Among the agencies, the largest increases would occur within the Department of Energy, particularly within the National Nuclear Security Administration (see chart at right). On the nondefense side, efficiency, renewables and ARPA-E would seem to fare best, relatively speaking. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Commerce R&D agencies would also receive relatively large boosts.
  • Outside of these few, no other departments would keep pace with inflation, though some individual offices and programs would do better, some would do worse.

As mentioned above, the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative would provide an additional $5.3 billion in R&D, not reflected in the chart above. This includes nearly $1 billion for NIH, over $500 million more for NSF, and nearly $900 million for NASA, among other agencies. The initiative would also fund a national network of 45 manufacturing innovation institutes in partnership with industry. However, all of this additional funding would require Congress to raise the current discretionary spending cap. It remains to be seen whether Congress will do so — or attempts to secure this additional R&D funding through cuts elsewhere.

Additional coverage to follow.