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Analysis: As Congress Considers COMPETES, How Short Are We From The Old COMPETES?

Congress has attempted large-scale research boosts before, but appropriations haven't kept up.

Congress is currently taking a run at sweeping legislation to enhance U.S. science, innovation, and competitiveness and set a long-term pathway for robust research investment. But this is not the first time Congress has made such an attempt: 15 years ago, Congress adopted the original America COMPETES Act to achieve similar ends. That act and subsequent legislation  teed up budget doubling for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institution of Standards and Technology.

But in spite of legislators' intentions, appropriations have failed to keep up. In a new analysis, we quantify the current and cumulative funding shortfall for these agencies below the original 2007 America COMPETES Act and the 2010 COMPETES reauthorization. The bottom line: 

  • In FY 2021, funding for these agencies was $6.7 billion below where it might have been under COMPETES 2007, suggesting a cumulative shortfall of $77 billion
  • Funding for these agencies was $4.9 billion below where it might have been under COMPETES 2010, suggesting a cumulative shortfall of $44 billion
  • These three agencies also lost substantial funding due to the Budget Control Act spending caps: perhaps $29 billion over the past decade.

For more, download the report.