FY15 Federal Funding Update

Published this month, the Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) report entitled “Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2016” provides updated government estimates for the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) (October 1, 2014–September 30, 2015) US federal government R&D budget. These numbers update the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates for FY15 federal R&D spending published in IBO’s December 31, 2014 issue. All of the figures refer to budget authorities and are estimates.

Total federal R&D budget authority rose 1.3% in FY15 to $138,069 million. Excluding the Department of Defense (DOD), R&D budget authority grew 0.4% to $70,618 million. President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget request (see IBO 2/15/15) includes a 5.5% increase in R&D budget authority to $145,694 million, with the DOD accounting for 50% of the total amount. Excluding the DOD, the requested FY16 R&D budget authority would provide a 4.5% increase to $73,573 million.

Although the federal government’s budget authorities for basic research and applied research funding were essentially flat at -0.9% and 1.1% respectively, this fiscal year, development funding increased 2.5%. Basic research, applied research, and development accounted for 23%, 24% and 51% of FY15 R&D budget authority. The remainder was for facilities and equipment, for which budget authority declined 1.5% (see sidebar).

As the tables on this page show, among the agencies for which figures were provided, the NSF and USDA each recorded increases in R&D budget authorities this fiscal year. However, R&D budget authorities declined for the DOE and EPA. For the selected agencies and types of research activities detailed in the report, development at the DOE suffered the largest decline in FY15 budget authority, falling more than 9%. However, facilities and equipment budget authorities rose double digits for both the DOE and NSF.

The CRS report also provides figures for multiagency R&D efforts. Total FY15 budget authority for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (see IBO 4/15/10) declined 5.5% to $1,488 million. Total budget authority for the BRAIN Initiative (see IBO 4/15/13) doubled in FY15 to $200 million.

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