Final FY09 US R&D Budget at a Stand Still—For Now

Due to the upcoming presidential elections, the US Congress essentially has put the fiscal year 2009 budget, which started October 1, 2008, on hold. A continuing resolution was passed to fund the federal agencies that did not receive final budget appropriations through March 6, 2009. Among the agencies operating under the continuing resolution are three of the major federal agencies for R&D funding: the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The continuing resolution funds the agencies at their original fiscal 2008 levels, excluding the additional appropriations the National Institutes of Health (NIH), DOE and NSF received earlier this year (see IBO 7/31/08). As part of the continuing resolution, final budgets were passed for three agencies: the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimates that the continuing resolution increased the US government’s fiscal 2009 R&D funding by a mere 2.0% to $147,295 million. Excluding defense R&D, federal R&D spending fell 1.0% to $61,198 million. Due to the major increases in the defense budget, which funds most development projects, total research funding grew 0.4% to $58,233 million, development funding rose 3.3% to $84,605 million, and funding for R&D facilities and capital equipment declined 4% to $4,457 million, according to AAAS calculations.

The AAAS estimates that fiscal 2009 budget authority for the DOE, DHHS and NSF all declined under the continuing resolution compared to their 2008 budgets and supplemental funding. The DOE’s R&D funding fell 0.6%, with R&D for the Office of Science declining 1.7% to $3,574 million and Energy R&D flat at $2,369 million. The NSF’s R&D budget fell 0.5%.

R&D budget authority for the DHHS also declined, decreasing 0.5% to $29,816 million, including a 0.5% decline for the NIH’s R&D. On October 2, the DHHS issued a notice stating that due to the continuing resolution, the NIH “will issue noncompeting research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level).” Other DHHS R&D funding was flat at $1,140 million.

R&D funding for the EPA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the Department of Commerce, did not receive supplemental funding in fiscal 2008 so their fiscal 2009 budgets were flat at $548 million and $521 million, respectively. In contrast, the Department of Agriculture’s fiscal 2009 budget authority for R&D increased, according to AAAS calculations, rising 2.2% due to discretionary programs and mandatory funding. The mandatory funding includes monies for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, according to the bill’s text.

One agency that did receive a hefty increase in R&D funding was the DHS. The AAAS estimates that the DHS’s fiscal 2009 R&D budget rose 9.4% to $1,085 million. Funding increased 14.3% excluding 2008 and 2009 earmarks (specific projects designated by Congress). Appropriations for the DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) R&D budget grew 15.8% to $800 million. Leading the funding increases was Laboratory Facilities, the budget for which rose 56.0% to $162 million. The AAAS attributed part of the increase to a reclassification of salaries. New funding is also included for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center and for the National Bio and Agrodefense Facility.

Among the other DHS S&T programs receiving double-digit percentage increases for fiscal 2009 was Explosives, for which funding rose 23.8% to $96 million, according to the AAAS. Accounting for a quarter of the S&T’s budget, the Chemical and Biological Division’s budget declined 3.7%, while the budget for University Programs rose 2.0% to $50 million and Innovation funding was flat at $33 million. Separate from S&T, the R&D budget for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office decreased 1.9% to $269 million, according to the AAAS. In its summary of the bill, the US House of Representative’s Committee on Appropriations lists appropriations of $544 million for buying explosives detection systems.

The AAAS estimates R&D funding for the Department of Defense increased 3.8% to $3,032 million. The budget authority for basic research rose 12.9% to $1,835 million, while for applied research, it increased 1.7% to $5,084 million. In addition, funding for advanced technology development increased 9.7% to $6,517 million. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency received $3,130 billion for an 11.4% increase. The DOD’s appropriations for medical research increased 1.0% to $903 million, which includes grants for cancer research.

FY09 US R&D Budget Authority by Category

Research $58,233

Devp. $84,605

R&D Fac. and Cap. Equip. $4,457

FY09 US R&D Budget Authority by Agency

FY08 ($M) FY09* ($M) % Chg.

Dept. of Homeland Security$992 $1,085 9.4%

Dept. of Agriculture $2,359 $2,412 2.2%

EPA $548 $548 0.0%

NIH $28,826 $28,676 -0.5%

NSF $4,501 $4,479 -0.5%

Dept. of Energy $9,724 $9,661 -0.6%

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