Choppy Spending For R&D | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: February 4, 2008

Choppy Spending For R&D

Proposed research funding is way up for some agencies, down for others
Department: Government & Policy
Credit: Scott J. Ferrell/Newscom
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Credit: Scott J. Ferrell/Newscom

Federal spending on research and development would be $147 billion in fiscal 2009 under the proposed budget released by the Administration on Feb. 4. That would be a 3% increase over fiscal 2008 spending, according to figures from the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB).

Increases, however, are not consistent across agencies. The programs cited by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address as essential to U.S. competitiveness all are slated for increases. The National Science Foundation's funding would rise 16% to $5.2 billion; the Department of Energy's Office of Science programs would receive $4.7 billion, a 19% increase; and the National Institute of Standards & Technology???s laboratory budget would rise 4% to $634 million.

The proposed spending for other major research agencies is flat or declining. The National Institutes of Health would get no increase at all next year. Its budget would be fixed at $29.3 billion, the same as in fiscal 2008. And despite continuing long-term energy concerns, spending at the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Resources would be cut 17% to $1.2 billion. Research funding at the National Aeronautics & Space Administration next year would be down 7% to $5.5 billion. Also, research at the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service is slated for a 7% cut to $1.0 billion.

Multiagency programs touted by the Administration would get some increases in the proposed budget. The National Nanotechnology Initiative, which was formed to create materials, devices, and systems that exploit the distinct properties of matter at the molecular level, would receive $1.5 billion next year, up 2%. Likewise, the Climate Change Science Program, consisting of 13 federal departments and agencies, is proposed for a 10% rise in funds to $2.0 billion.

According to OMB data, most of the $3.9 billion increase in federal R&D spending will go to two areas. The Department of Defense would receive a $1.0 billion increase, to $74.4 billion—51% of total federal R&D funds—just for development and testing of large weapons systems. And at the Department of Homeland Security, spending for new research facilities and equipment would skyrocket by $2.1 billion from just $148 million this year.

The budget proposal is likely to undergo significant changes this year as Congress goes through the appropriations process. The many cuts the President has proposed for popular programs such as NASA and USDA, along with the lack of an increase for NIH, may be changed. These are areas in which funds may be added by Congress, especially in an election year.

 
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