Federal research funding up 6 percent

research funding
Obligations for basic research increased to $31.6 billion; applied research rose to $31.3 billion.

Federal funding for research rose by $3.7 billion, or 6 percent, between fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

A $1.3 billion increase in research obligations by the Department of Health and Human Services drove much of the upswing in funding. Federal FY2014 obligations for research totaled $62.9 billion.

Preliminary data indicates that federal research funding remained relatively flat at $63.4 billion in FY2015, and then increased by $2.7 billion, to $66.2 billion, in FY2016.

Obligations for basic research, which focuses on fundamental scientific exploration, increased 6 percent, to $31.6 billion. Obligations for applied research, which focuses on gaining knowledge or understanding to meet a specific need, also increased by 6 percent, to $31.3 billion.

Changes in research funding at specific agencies from FY2013 to FY2014 included:

  • Department of Health and Human Services research funding increased by 4 percent, to $30.6 billion.
  • Department of Energy research funding increased by 10 percent, to $8.1 billion.
  • Department of Defense research funding increased by 13 percent, to $6.7 billion.
  • The National Science Foundation’s research funding increased by 9 percent, to $5.4 billion.
  • NASA research funding decreased by 2 percent, to $5.3 billion.

Research accounted for 47 percent of all federal funding for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment). Development accounted for 51 percent, while R&D plant made up the remainder.

The NCSES report found that from FY2013 to FY2014, federal R&D funding rose by 4 percent, to $130 billion. Preliminary numbers indicate those R&D obligations would fall by 1 percent in FY2015, and then increase by 6 percent in FY2016, to $137.7 billion.

For more information, including the amounts that funding agencies provided for specific areas of science and engineering research, read the full InfoBrief.