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NSF: Federal Support for Academic Basic Research Remains Steady

September 25, 2014

Federal funding for basic research performed at universities and colleges decreased 0.3% between FY11 and FY12, according to a new National Science Foundation (NSF) Infobrief. In FY12, basic research at universities and colleges accounted for 11.4% of total R&D obligations, and is estimated to increase to 11.8 percent of total R&D obligations in FY13, and to 12.5 percent in FY14. Although colleges and universities accounted for just over one in $10 committed to total R&D, they received more than half of the $31 billion allocated to basic research. An SSTI Digest article earlier this month discussed federal commitments to research and development over the past decade.

Almost all (98.3 percent) of the $15.4 federal basic research obligations to universities and colleges in FY12 was provided by five federal departments and agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) committed $9.2 billion (58.6 percent); NSF committed $3.8 billion (24.0 percent); the Department of Defense (DOD) committed $1.2 billion (7.6 percent); the Department of Energy (DOE) committed $0.7 billion (4.5 percent); and, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) committed $0.6 billion (3.7 percent). In FY12, 85.0 percent of the HHS obligations for basic research at universities and colleges were in support of the life sciences.

In FY12, more than three-fourths of total federal basic research dollars committed to universities and colleges went to three of the eight broad fields of science and engineering: life sciences (56.9 percent of total basic research obligations to universities); physical sciences (11.2 percent); and, engineering (9.6 percent). All of the eight broad fields of sciences are projected to increase in FY14. Read the brief…

nsf, r&d, higher ed