Federal Research Funding In Decline as Appropriations Stall

The 109th Congress, the gift that keeps on giving. One of my American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, they put out the journal Science) mailing lists left this nugget…

This is going to affect nearly everything, from climate modeling to medical research. Most folks associated with big science are going to be hurting.

– December FY 2007 Appropriations Update
“Federal Research Funding In Decline as Appropriations Stall”

The outgoing, Republican-majority 109th Congress ended on December 9 in
a flurry of legislative activity, but left conspicuously unfinished the
fiscal year (FY) 2007 appropriations bills funding nearly all domestic
programs. Only the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Homeland Security
(DHS) have their final budgets; all other federal agencies are operating
at the lower of FY 2006 or FY 2007 House funding levels.

President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) proposal to
provide large increases for select physical sciences agencies was
endorsed by House and Senate appropriators, but these proposals died at
the end of the 109th Congress. These and other proposed increases for
federal research and development (R&D) programs have mostly become flat
funding in the current budget environment. The incoming Democratic 110th
Congress could make these flat appropriations final for the entire
fiscal year. As a result, the federal investment in basic and applied
research is almost certain to fall in FY 2007 for the first time in at
least three decades.
The December FY 2007 Appropriations Update provides an update of
federal R&D in FY 2007 congressional appropriations so far along with
the latest AAAS estimates of federal R&D funding.
( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/upd1206.htm ) HTML version
( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/upd1206.pdf ) PDF version

Highlights from the December report are:

– Although the 109th Congress supported the President’s American
Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) increases for three key physical
sciences agencies, these potential gains evaporated when the 109th
Congress failed to complete domestic appropriations. The National
Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science
(DOE OS), and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology
laboratories (NIST) would have received dramatic increases in their R&D
funding, but the continuing resolution funds them at 2006 levels, along
with most of the other R&D funding agencies. Only a special provision
for increases in a year-long continuing resolution (CR) could resurrect
these earlier proposals.
– While most R&D funding agencies receive flat funding in the current
CR, falling behind 2.0 percent expected inflation, other R&D programs
face steep cuts. The House’s proposed cuts in its appropriations bills
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), DOE’s energy programs, and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are forcing
these agencies to operate at sharply reduced funding levels under the
current CR. Steep cuts to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) R&D are
already final. Among nondefense agencies, only National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) R&D and National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) facilities funding receive increases under the current

– The federal investment in basic and applied research is almost
certain to fall in FY 2007. Under the provisions of the current CR,
federal research funding would total $55.2 billion, a 2.6 percent cut
that would be the first year-to-year decline in at least three decades.
Adjusted for inflation, the cut would approach 5 percent in real
dollars. Federal research funding peaked in real terms in 2004; after
declining slightly in 2005 and 2006 the decline would accelerate in
– The federal investment in development hits an all-time high.
Development funding would climb 6.3 percent or $4.6 billion to $78.8
billion, continuing multi-billion dollar increases in each of the last
six years. Nearly all development funding comes from the Department of
Defense (DOD) for new weapons systems. NASA has flexibility under the
continuing resolution to implement its plans to shift funding to
increased development efforts for the next generation of human space
vehicles, leaving its research funding in steep decline.
– Cuts in “R” (research) combined with large increases in “D”
(development) would help the total federal investment in R&D reach
$138.3 billion in FY 2007, a 2.2 percent increase that just keeps pace
with expected inflation. While defense R&D would gain 4.6 percent to
exceed $80 billion for the first time at $81.2 billion, flat or
declining funding in the continuing resolution would result in a 0.9
percent cut in nondefense R&D to $57.1 billion; if finalized, it would
be the first nominal (before inflation) cut in nondefense R&D since
– The continuing resolution would cancel most of the congressionally
designated, performer-specific R&D projects (earmarks) that were pending
in the unfinished FY 2007 appropriations bills. The CR would provide
2007 funds at last year’s funding levels for most programs, but the CR
does not contain report language attached to 2007 House or Senate
appropriations bills directing spending on specific projects. For
several R&D agencies, the elimination of 2007 earmarks enables
non-earmarked R&D funding to increase substantially even within a flat
budget. DOE’s Office of Science, for example, funded $129 million in
earmarked R&D projects out of its 2006 appropriation; with the same
appropriation of $3.3 billion for R&D under the CR in 2007, the Office
can use the $129 million for other programs. Similarly, the CR frees up
$266 million in energy R&D earmarks, an estimated $331 million in USDA
R&D earmarks, and $317 million in NASA R&D earmarks from 2006 that can
now be used for other programs in 2007.

– AAAS R&D Funding Updates on R&D in FY 2007 Appropriations

AAAS provides continually updated coverage of R&D in FY 2007
appropriations on the FY 2007 R&D page. AAAS R&D Funding Updates
summarize the implications of congressional actions for R&D funding at
every stage of the appropriations process.

Also available is a continually updated table on the status of FY 2007
appropriations, which provides a quick summary of the progress of the 11
appropriations bills through the legislative process, and highlights of
recent appropriations actions.

( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy07.htm )

( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/approp07.htm ) Status of FY 2007 appropriations

– SAVE THE DATE MAY 3-4, 2007
32nd Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
May 3-4, 2007 International Trade Center Washington, DC

The AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy, held in Washington
each spring, provides a forum for discussion and debate about budget and
other policy issues facing the S&T community.
The 2007 Forum will be May 3-4, 2007, at the Ronald Reagan
International Trade Center in Washington, DC. Mark your calendars. More
information and registration will be available in the new year on the
AAAS R&D web site ( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd ).
Please forward this message to interested colleagues. If you would like
to receive these messages, please go to the “Guest Book” section of the
AAAS R&D web site ( http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd ). If you wish to be
removed from this list, please reply to this message with ‘unsubscribe’
in the body or header of the message.
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 326-6607

Published by


I am the non-admin personality of blivet tool & die I have been academically trained as a professional archaeologist (MA, RPA) and now live in Arvada, CO. Father, husband, scientist, geek of several trades, and high-functioning Autistic adult. Future planetary expatriate?