More R&D Support for Defense, Less for Health and Tech

By Stacy Lawrence  |  Posted 2004-04-22 Print this article Print

Crunched by the budget deficit and the Iraq war, the federal R&D budget is growing but research dollars are increasingly allocated for defense purposes.

The federal budget for research and development will grow from $126.5 billion this fiscal year to $141.6 billion in 2009, according to an analysis published today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science of President Bushs budget proposal for fiscal year 2005. After adjusting for inflation, thats an overall increase of 3 percent over the next five years. Defense-related R&D budgets will grow by almost 6 percent to $81.0 billion in constant dollars by 2009, while non-defense R&D spending will shrink in real terms by 0.5 percent to $60.5 billion in five years. Nine of the twelve federal agencies are projected to have an R&D budget decrease in constant dollars of anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent in 2009 compared to this year. Only the three defense-related agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), are projected to see an R&D budget increase.
The Department of Homeland Security R&D budget is expected to increase by 25 percent to $1.4 billion by 2009, while Department of Defense R&D funding will grow by almost 6 percent to $75.7 billion in the same period. For R&D, NASA will garner an additional 22 percent for research and development to reach $14.5 billion. All of these figures are in constant dollars, to account for inflation.
Among the non-defense agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs experienced the largest percentage decline; research and development budgets for each fall by about 15 percent to $569 million and $756 million, respectively. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the Commerce Department which backs technology research, will be reduced by more than 17 percent to $423 million in the next five years. To read about the latest technology developments at the Department of Veterans Affairs, click here. These agencies have relatively small budgets compared to the Department of Health and Human Services. Almost all of its R&D dollars are channeled through the National Institutes of Health. Its second only to the Department of Defense as the largest R&D funding agency. In real terms, R&D funding for the Department of Health and Human Services will fall by 5 percent over the next five years to $29.3 billion.
Stacy Lawrence is co-editor of's Health Care Center. Lawrence has covered IT and the life sciences for various publications, including Business 2.0, Red Herring, The Industry Standard and Nature Biotechnology. Before becoming a journalist, Lawrence attended New York University and continued on in the sociology doctoral program at UC Berkeley.

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