John F. Sargent Jr.
Coordinator Specialist in Science and Technology Policy
Congress has received President Obama’s budget request for FY2014, which includes $142.773 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.861 billion (1.3%) increase from the FY2012 actual funding level of $140.912 billion. The request represents the President’s R&D priorities; Congress may opt to agree with part or all of the request, or may express different priorities through the appropriations process. In particular, Congress will play a central role in determining the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines, programs, or agencies to address priorities.
Funding for R&D is highly concentrated in a few departments. Under President Obama’s request, seven federal agencies would receive 95.3% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (47.8%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (22.4%, primarily for the National Institutes of Health) accounting for more than 70% of total federal R&D funding.
Among the largest changes proposed in the President’s request, the R&D budget of the Department of Defense would fall by $4.625 billion (6.3%), while R&D funding for the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would increase by $1.428 billion. The NIST growth is fueled by increases in funding for its core research laboratories and by the establishment of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation with $1 billion in mandatory funding. The NNMI seeks to promote the development of manufacturing technologies with broad applications.
President Obama has requested increases in the R&D budgets of NIST, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science that were targeted for doubling over 7 years, from their FY2006 levels, by the America COMPETES Act, and over 10 years by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. The FY2014 request breaks with President Obama’s earlier budgets, which explicitly stated the goal of doubling funding for these accounts over their FY2006 aggregate level. Instead the Office of Science and Technology Policy asserts that the FY2014 request “maintains the President’s commitment to increase funding for research at these three science agencies.” The President’s FY2014 request sets a pace that would result in doubling of the FY2006 level over a period of more than 17 years.
The President’s request continues support for three multi-agency R&D initiatives in FY2014, proposing $1.704 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a reduction of $159 million (8.6%) over FY2012, due primarily to reductions in NNI funding at DOD and NSF; $3.968 billion for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, an increase of $159 million (4.2%) over FY2012; and $2.652 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, an increase of $151 million (6.0%) over FY2012.
On October 16, 2013, the House and Senate passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 2775), which was subsequently signed into law (P.L. 113-46) by President Obama on October 17, 2013. The act provides continuing appropriations for FY2014 generally at the levels of, and under the terms and conditions of, FY2013 funding as reduced by sequestration, until whichever of the following first occurs: (1) enactment of an appropriation for any project or activity provided for in it; (2) enactment of the applicable appropriations Act for FY2014 without any provision for such project or activity; or (3) January 15, 2014. In recent years, Congress has used a variety of mechanisms to complete the annual appropriations process after the start of the fiscal year. This may affect agencies’ execution of their R&D budgets, including delaying or canceling some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.
Date of Report: November 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 63
Order Number: R43086
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