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Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2006

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Publication Date: February 2006

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32799

Topic: Science and technology (Scientific research)


The Bush Administration requested $132.4 billion in federal research and development (R&D) funding for FY2006. This sum represents a $400 million increase over the FY2005 estimated funding level of $132 billion. CRS estimates that Congress has approved a record $135.7 billion for federal R&D in FY2006, a 2.8% increase over the FY2005 estimated funding level. However, nearly all of that increase can be attributed to increases in defense weapons systems and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's $877 million increase for human space exploration technology.1 (See Table 13)

Basic research funding would decline by 0.5% below the FY2005 estimated level, declining to an estimated $26.7 billion in FY2006. Five agencies account for 90% of all federal basic research expenditures. Total federal research funding (the sum of basic and applied research) is projected to increase $1 billion to $57 billion. However, the majority of that increase would go to NASA, while most of the remaining federal agencies would receive below inflation increases for research funding.

While the President essentially requested flat funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) R&D programs, Congress approved an estimated $ 72.1 billion DOD R&D, a 4.2 % increase over FY2005 funding levels. Most of that increase is a result of Congress increasing DOD's proposed science and technology budget by $2.5 billion more than was requested by the Administration.

Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would decline, in nominal dollars for the first time in 36 years. Since the completion of doubling NIH's budget (between 1998-2003), funding has declined to the FY2003 funding level, after adjusting for inflation.

Most R&D funding agencies now face budgets that are shrinking to levels of years past, in real dollars. While it has been 24 years since NIH's budget declined in real dollars, other agencies such as the National Science Foundation, DOE's Office of Science, NASA (excluding human space exploration), and Agriculture, have lived with stagnate budgets for several years. Consequently, in real dollars, all of these agencies will have less R&D funding in FY2006 than they did in FY2003.