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Policy & Funding

Federal Research Funding Grows $3.7 Billion

Federal funding for basic and applied research grew 6 percent in the most recent year’s data, with projections for more modest growth through 2016.

According to newly released data, federal funding for research increased by 6 percent, gaining about $3.7 billion between the fiscal years 2013 and 2014 (the most recent year for which there are data). The federal government spent $62.9 billion overall on research — a figure that is projected to remain flat in 2015 but increase by 4 percent in 2016.

The brief from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) also revealed that total federal research and development funding rose by 4 percent to $130.3 billion, with an expected 1 percent decrease in 2015 and 6 percent increase in 2016.

Obligations for basic research, or research that focuses on fundamental scientific exploration, increased by 6 percent to $31.6 billion in 2014. Additionally, basic research funding accounted for 24 percent of total R&D in 2014.

Obligations for applied research, or research that focuses on gaining knowledge to meet a specific need, increased by 6 percent to $31.3 billion. Applied research funding accounted for 24 percent of R&D in 2014.

Six agencies accounted for the majority of all research funding in FY 2014:

  1. Department of Health and Human Services: increased by 4 percent to $30.6 billion;

  2. Department of Energy: increased by 10 percent to $8.1 billion;

  3. Department of Defense: increased by 13 percent to $6.7 billion;

  4. National Science Foundation: increased by 9 percent to $5.4 billion;

  5. NASA: decreased by 2 percent to $5.3 billion; and

  6. Department of Agriculture: increased by 10 percent to $2.1 billion.

The 4 percent increase in funding for Health and Human Services (HHS) drove up much of the overall funding. HHS has accounted for almost half of all federal agency-funded research since FY 2012, with nearly all (96 percent) of the HHS funding obligated by the National Institutes of Health.

The brief is available on the NCSES site, and the full set of data tables is available on the NSF site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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