(This analysis is a preview of the
DOT section in the forthcoming AAAS Report XXXI: Research and Development FY
2007, a comprehensive look at the President's budget for R&D in FY 2007.
This analysis contains revised AAAS estimates of DOT R&D, different from figures
originally presented in the President's budget. More tables and continually updated
supplemental materials on R&D in the FY 2007 budget can be found on the AAAS
R&D Web site at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd.)
After a dramatic increase to an all-time high in 2006 resulting from last summer’s
highway bill, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) R&D funding would fall
8.5 percent or $71 million to $767 million in FY 2007 (see Table
II-15). Highway R&D would continue to increase, with a 4.6 percent boost
to $397 million.
R&D in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would fall 24 percent down
to $235 million after a substantial congressional increase in 2006.
DOT R&D in the FY 2007 Budget
Department of Transportation (DOT) funds a broad range of highway, aviation, traffic
safety, rail, transit, and marine transportation programs. Its total budget would
be $63.6 billion in the FY 2007 request, an increase of $1.8 billion or 2.9 percent.
R&D is a relatively small part of the DOT budget and would total $767 million
in FY 2007, a cut of 8.5 percent or $71 million that would retreat from a dramatic
increase of $131 million in 2006 to an all-time high (see Table II-15). Funding
for aviation R&D would fall, along with R&D on most other transportation
modes, but highway R&D would continue to increase by $18 million to $397 million.
funding is unusual in that although funds are appropriated, as they are for other
discretionary programs, minimum funding levels each year are guaranteed by transportation
authorization bills. Transportation appropriators must provide the funds necessary
to meet these guarantees, occasionally adding to them or modifying them, before
appropriating funds for programs outside the authorization bills.
nearly two years of stops and starts and temporary extensions, Congress approved
a new authorization bill in August 2005 that dramatically increases highway R&D
funding beginning in 2006 and extending through 2009. Nearly all the funds from
the transportation authorization bill, commonly called the highway bill, go to
the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for state and local road projects, mostly
in formula distributions but also in congressionally designated earmarked projects.
FHWA’s R&D portfolio is a mixture of formula funds for
state transportation R&D, earmarked R&D projects, and intramural research.
The highway bill helped FHWA R&D climb 25 percent in 2006 to a record $380
million. The FY 2007 budget, still based on the multi-year highway bill, would
sustain those increases with a $397 million R&D investment, an increase of
4.6 percent. The surface transportation research portfolio nearly doubled last
year to $147 million for R&D on highway safety, pavement technologies, highway
operations, environmental impacts, and other road topics, and would be sustained
at that level for FY 2007. The Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) portfolio
of innovative technologies to improve traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion
enjoyed a big boost last year from the highway bill and would be sustained at
$75 million in 2007. The FHWA budget also includes state highway R&D, distributed
to state and local governments to support their R&D efforts, with a proposed
11.5 percent increase to $166 million in the 2007 request.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) R&D would total $235 million
in 2007, a sharp cut of 24 percent or $75 million coming after a large increase
in 2006. Last year’s budget request proposed cuts in FAA R&D, but Congress
boosted FAA’s R&D efforts in a number of aviation-related topics, including
weather research, aircraft safety technology, human factors research, and development
of ‘free flight’ technologies to improve aviation system capacity. The FY 2007
request proposes only slight cuts in FAA’s main Research, Engineering, and Development,
which is mostly focused on aviation safety, but proposes steep cuts in the Facilities
and Equipment portfolio of advanced technology development and ‘free flight’ technologies.
(click on the image for PDF)
Outlook and Impacts for the DOT Budget
of large increases for DOT R&D in FY 2001 and FY 2002 responding to the September
11 terrorist attacks on U.S. aviation, DOT’s support for R&D reached a peak
in FY 2002, after adjusting for inflation (see Figure 1). But with the transfer
of aviation security R&D to the DHS, recent reductions in key programs, and
the transfer of the Coast Guard and its R&D program to DHS, DOT R&D declined
sharply in FY 2003 and 2004 before rebounding last year and nearly reaching the
2002 funding level in 2006. The 2006 budget actually exceeds previous highs,
however, because Coast Guard and aviation security R&D are now funded in the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The FY 2007 budget would be a retreat from
the 2006 peak.
majority of DOT’s R&D is performed by intramural laboratories and industrial
performers, with about a third each of the total portfolio. Universities and colleges
perform just 4 percent DOT’s R&D. Unlike the other large R&D funding agencies,
a large proportion is performed by state and local governments. Most of this money
comes from the FHWA under formula grants.
than three-quarters of DOT’s research (excluding development and R&D facilities)
is in the engineering sciences, particularly in civil engineering, but DOT also
is a key federal funding source for research in psychology and physics. DOT is
only the fifth-largest supporter of engineering research despite its importance
in the DOT portfolio, funding less than 4 percent of all federal support for engineering.
The major sponsors of engineering research are DOD and NASA, with about a third
each of total federal support, followed by the Department of Energy and National
to the future, the Bush Administration’s outyear budget
projections show that in the push to reduce the budget deficit in half over the
next few years DOT R&D will be one of the programs to sacrifice. Although
key physical sciences research agencies would see their R&D budgets increase
in 2008 and beyond, funding for DOT’s investments in engineering and the physical
sciences is projected to fall in 2008, 2009, and 2010 before rebounding slightly
in 2011. After adjusting for inflation, DOT R&D would fall a projected
17 percent over the next five years. (More
materials on R&D in the FY 2007 budget, historical data and charts, and more
information on AAAS Report XXXI: Research and Development FY 2007, can
be found on the AAAS R&D Web site at http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd.)
March 2, 2006
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
1200 New York Avenue,
Washington, DC 20005
AAAS R&D Web site: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd