States region is heavily dependent on a few major institutions
for federal funding rather than a broad base of researchers
competing nationally for their R&D finding. Almost 83 percent
of the region's federal funds come from just two federal agencies,
DOD and NASA, and their prospects for FY 2000 funding levels
appear to be trending downward. A somewhat higher proportion
of federal funding goes to industry (53 percent) compared
with the national average of 45 percent. A somewhat lower
proportion goes to universities and colleges (13.9 percent)
compared with the national average of 18 percent.
community, however, can boast some strengths. The Gulf States
region is home to several major universities that receive
over half of their R&D funding from various federal agencies.
Almost 8 percent of the total USDA R&D portfolio went to academic
institutions in the region, and almost 6 percent of NASA's
R&D supports research at universities and colleges in the
region. Most importantly, the academic institutions in the
Gulf States region have captured a significant amount of funding
support from their own states. Almost 6 percent of total R&D
expenditures to universities and colleges in the region came
from state and local governments, a higher percentage than
outlook for federal funding for R&D is dependent on political
and economic factors that do not directly relate to research.
In the FY 1999 budget process, R&D funding grew 4.5 percent
above FY 1998 and support for almost every major R&D agency
received significant increases. The President's budget for
FY 2000, however, is constrained by a cap on discretionary
spending put into place two years ago. Despite the fact that
the government is forecasting significant surpluses well into
the future, the caps remain in place in the concurrent budget
resolution passed by Congress.
the Administration's FY 2000 budget request, the two federal
agencies that the Gulf States region relies upon most heavily,
namely DOD and NASA, are expected to decline. The FY 2000
budget request for DOD is 7.7 percent below FY 1999 levels.
Nearly all DOD support for R&D at colleges and universities
comes from its Science and Technology accounts (6.1-6.3) which
is expected to decline 5.2 percent. Industrial firms rely
on DOD's R&D accounts (6-4-6.7) for funding research, which
is expected to decline 8.1 percent in FY 2000. NASA's R&D
funding request for FY 2000 called for a 0.6 percent increase,
which is below the expected rate of inflation.
the outlook from the congressional perspective is not much
brighter. The concurrent budget resolution accords lower priority
for discretionary programs, including federal R&D. The budgetary
increases of the past two years passed by Congress have raised
hopes in the research community. Nevertheless, the caps on
discretionary spending and the debates about using the surplus
for Social Security versus tax reduction will take priority.
Hence, federal funding for R&D, whether to support research
conducted in government laboratories, industry, or academic
institutions, faces an uphill battle.
clear that the new era of budget surpluses is far from a dawning
golden age for federal investments in R&D. There are many
claims to the surplus, and more importantly there are restrictive
caps. The good news for federal R&D is that projections are
not the same as predictions. As we have witnessed in recent
years, expectations and plans for the future can change significantly
as economic conditions improve, and estimates of the deficit
or surplus change.
respect to the Gulf States, the outlook for the federal budget
may not appear to be very bright. The region is heavily wedded
to DOD and NASA for federal funds, one of the region's weaknesses.
This is sobering news for the government laboratories and
industrial firms in the region that rely on a significant
amount of support from these agencies. The universities and
colleges too may find their research programs threatened by
this dependence. Fortunately, the region's university research
system has built strong ties with other agencies, notably
HHS and USDA. In addition to its research diversification,
the academic institutions in the Gulf States have developed
state initiatives to bridge ties between academia, industry,
and state governments. Developing partnerships between industry
and academia, or federal and state governments may lessen
the blow of decreasing federal dollars for R&D.