US Budget Provides Meager R&D Increase

The announcement of the US federal budget for fiscal year 2008 (October 1, 2007–September 30, 2008) was grim news for science R&D supporters. According to a preliminary analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the total US federal R&D budget increased only 1.2% for fiscal 2008 to $142,715 million. This amount included a 1.0% increase for basic research to $28,604 million, a 1.1% increase for applied research to $28,926 million and a 0.5% increase in funding for development to $80,550 million.

However, in what might be a silver lining for instrument makers, the AAAS’s R&D budget estimate also cited a 15.7% increase to $4,635 million for R&D facilities and capital equipment. Among the funding in this area is a 46.7% increase in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) budget for Buildings and Facilities to $119 million, a 15.0% rise in National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction to $220 million and an 86.2% increase in the Construction budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to $109 million.

Other beneficiaries of the fiscal 2008 US government budget were the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Commerce and energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE). Losing out was the American Competitiveness Initiative (see IBO 2/28/06), which proposed substantial increases for R&D funding for the DOE, NSF and NIST. The FDA and EPA each recorded declines in their R&D budgets.

R&D at the DOE received a 7.4% increase in funding to $9,376 million for fiscal 2008, according to AAAS estimates. The budget for DOE Science R&D rose 5.3% to $3,697 billion for a 1.4% increase excluding Congressional earmarks, which designate funding for specific projects. The Science R&D budget includes a 12.6% increase in spending for Biological and Environmental Research to $544 million. The R&D budget for Energy Supply and Conservation increased 30.3% to $1,262 million and includes a $988 million for the R&D of Efficiency and Renewables, a 30.0% increase. Fossil Energy R&D received $557 million, marking a 13.1% budget increase. This amount includes $493 million for Coal Research, a 15.9% increase. High energy physics projects and laboratories bore the brunt of cutbacks. AAAS estimates that Energy accounted for 23.0% of the total DOE R&D budget, General Science for 5.3% and Defense for 2.9%.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) R&D budget increased 1.3% to $30,037 million for fiscal 2008, according to the AAAS. The Office of the Secretary received a 40.1% increase in R&D funding to $154 million, largely for biodefense. The R&D budget for the DHHS’ largest component, the NIH, rose 0.9% to $28,653 million. R&D funding for all of the NIH Institutes, except the Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was flat. Among the Institutes, the National Center for Research and Resources received a 1.4% budget increase to $1,109 million. The AAAS estimates that R&D funding for the NIH Common Fund, which funds the NIH Roadmap for Biomedical Research among other projects, received a 2.6% increase to $496 million.

Elsewhere in the DHHS, the Centers for Disease Control received a 4.0% increase, bringing its R&D budget to $569 million, according to the AAAS. However, the FDA’s fiscal 2008 R&D budget shrank 3.5% to $139 million. According to the final budget bill, the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition received $513.5 million, of which $28.0 million was designed for a food safety performance plan. The budget also allocated $682.8 million in total funding to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, $237.0 million to the Center for Biologics and Evaluation and Research, and $44.3 million for the National Center for Toxicological Research.

The AAAS reports that the NSF received a 2.0% increase in its R&D budget, bringing it to $6,032 million. Excluding education and training and overhead costs, the AAAS estimates NSF R&D rose 1.1% to $4.5 billion, but accounting for inflation, it decreased. Few programs sustained any major increase, outside of Integrative Activities, whose R&D budget grew 10.3% to $253 million. In fact, the R&D for Biological Sciences fell 2.9% to $591 million.

The AAAS estimates that the R&D budget for the DHS rose 9.0% to $1,040 million for fiscal 2008. DHS Science and Technology R&D received $692 million for a 10.1% increase. However, the AAAS estimates only four Science and Technology R&D line items received a budget increase: Human Factors (108.9%), Test & Evaluation, Standards (12.1%), Transition (5.1%) and University Programs (1.5%). Funding for Laboratory Facilities fell 1.7% to $104 million. The final funding bill specifies $13 billion for the purchase of cargo container inspection technology and $294 billion for explosive detection systems for checked baggage. Separately, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) R&D received $324 million, a 5.2% increase, according to the AAAS. However, the DNDO is barred from purchasing advanced spectroscopic portal monitors until reporting to Congress and the certification of the technology.

Total EPA R&D fell 3.2% to $542 million for fiscal 2008, as stated by the AAAS. The only increase among the AAAS’s line item estimates for the EPA’s R&D budget was a 5.5% gain for Clean Air R&D to $99 million due to increases for research on climate change. For the total EPA budget, including non-R&D spending, Science and Technology funding rose 3.6% to $760 million. However, excluding non-R&D items, the Science and Technology budget fell 2.6% to $515 million.

Total R&D funding for the Department of Commerce rose 6.5% to $1,115 million, including an 18.9% increase to $334 million in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s R&D budget for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. R&D for the NIST received a 4.7% increase in R&D funding to $514 million, according to the AAAS. However, the NIST’s Scientific and Technology Research budget declined 0.8% to $369 million, while the R&D budget for Technology Innovation Program, the replacement for the Advanced Technology Program, fell 41.2% to $35 million.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a 2.0% increase in R&D funding to $2,301 million, largely due to Congressional earmarks. The AAAS estimates that R&D funding for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) gained 3.2% to $1,186 million. However, ARS Buildings and Facilities funding was flat at $47 million, all of which is allocated to earmarks.

Finally, the Justice Department’s fiscal 2008 budget allocated $152.3 million to DNA-related and forensic programs, according to the final budget bill. This amount includes $147.4 million for an enhancement program for DNA analysis and capacity.

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