Federal budget authority for research and development and R&D plant together totaled $140.6 billion (current dollars) in financial year (FY) 2012. This is somewhat lower than the total of $144.4 billion in FY 2011 and even further below the $149.0 billion in FY 2010. Most of the drop in funding in these years resulted from reduced budget authority for defense-related R&D.
For FY 2013, the total budget authority for R&D activity proposed by the President last year would rise somewhat to $142.2 billion. This proposal contains a still further decrease in defense-related R&D, but there are increases in nondefense mission areas, such as space, energy, health, and commerce.
A lower overall level of funding for R&D activities, however, has occurred since FY 2010. The budget authority total of $144.4 billion for R&D and R&D plant in FY 2011 declined by $4.6 billion (3.1 percent) from the FY 2010 level. The FY 2012 level of $140.6 billion declined an additional $3.8 billion (2.6 percent). When adjusted for inflation, these budget authority declines in FY 2011 and FY 2012 are even more substantial.
The FY 2011 budget for the federal government was not enacted in final form until 15 April 2011 (well after the 1 October 2010 start of FY 2011), and it resulted in some $38.5 billion in reductions to the FY 2010 spending levels throughout the government, including the aforementioned drop in federal budget authority for R&D and R&D plant. The FY 2012 budget was enacted through several spending bills in November and December 2011 and under the influence of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was passed in August 2011 to address the national debt-ceiling crisis at the time and also mandated various budget cuts throughout the 10 years beginning with FY 2012. The enacted FY 2012 budget reduced federal spending an additional $67 billion from the FY 2011 level.
The President’s proposed budget authority for R&D and R&D plant in FY 2013 is $142.2 billion, a $1.7 billion increase (1.2 percent) over the FY 2012 level. This increase is the net of a still further decline in funding ($1.5 billion) for defense R&D and R&D plant but an increase ($3.1 billion) in a number of nondefense budget functions. Congressional consideration of this proposal continues as this report is released.
One key dimension of uncertainty in what level of federal support for R&D is eventually enacted by the Congress for FY 2013 arises from the funding sequestration provisions in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Depending on the budgetary agreements reached by the Congress (in early 2013), sizable changes could result in the R&D funding levels over those proposed by the President for FY 2013 and years beyond.