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In Tight Economic Climate,
R&D Funding Tops Record
U.S. President George Bush signed legislation last week that awards a record $117.1 billion this year to the agencies responsible for federal spending on research and development (R&D).
The agreement between Congress and the President, despite coming during a tight fiscal climate, represents the largest percentage increase in R&D funds in 20 years, and the largest dollar increase in history, according to a AAAS report on final FY 2003 R&D appropriations issued this week. The Congressional action also means that in comparison to the FY 2003 budget, the one proposed for 2004 appears decidedly less generous.
Noting that the 2003 legislation was signed more than four months after the start of the fiscal year, AAAS's Kei Koizumi says that Congress seems committed to supporting the nation's scientific enterprise, in particular its role in addressing the threat of terrorism.
"The legislation seems to reflect the priority areas of defense, health, general science and homeland security," says Kei Koizumi, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program. "It also seems that technology is going to play a very important role in the federal government's response to terrorism."
The FY 2003 budget for research and development provides a record-breaking increase in defense R&D, and complete the doubling of the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a process that began five years ago; it also represents a substantial increase in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The AAAS report points out that Congress did not act on most of the cuts proposed by the Bush Administration request, resulting in "at least modest increases for nearly all the major R&D funding agencies." But the report adds that, "the FY 2003 budget nevertheless seriously disrupts the federal budget process, following as it does the release on February 3 of proposals for the next budget for FY 2004."
The Department of Defense (DOD) and NIH, the two largest R&D funding agencies, receive the lion's share of the 2003 budget, "reflecting the high priority placed on defense and health by the Bush Administration and Congress." The final legislation awards $58.6 billion to DOD for R&D, an increase of $8.8 billion, or 17.6 percent. NIH R&D increases to $26.2 billion, or 15.5 percent, "falling only slightly short of completing a five-year campaign to double the NIH budget." One of the other agencies that does particularly well under the budget is NSF, which receives a record $3.9 billion, an 11.4 percent increase in its R&D funding.
The AAAS report also notes that the budget provides large increases for basic and applied research, especially in NIH, which will sponsor 48 percent of all federal research, "the largest share in history."
The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program sponsors studies and colloquia on funding and policy issues affecting research and development (R&D). The Program aims to provide timely, objective, and accurate information on federal R&D support.
For more information on R&D funding in FY 2003, see the AAAS Analysis of R&D in Final FY 2003 appropriations.
See related article for more information on funding in FY 2004.
28 February 2003