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OCR for page 33

OCR for page 33

OCR for page 33
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2003: FEDERAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BUDGET APPENDIX A National Research Council Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education1 Key Findings (Excerpted from Executive Summary) KEY FINDINGS The following findings form the basis for the conclusions and recommendations of this study: Federal research funding in the aggregate turned a corner in FY 1998 after five years of stagnation. Total expenditures were up 4.5 percent in FY 1998 over their level in 1993. A year later, in FY 1999, they were up 11.7 percent over 1993. FY 2000 and FY 2001 saw continued growth in budget authority for research. These increases are accounted for primarily by NIH. Indeed, increases in NIH appropriations kept federal research funding from falling even lower in the mid-1990s and have dominated more recent growth in overall research funding (see Fig. ES-1). Moreover, NIH is slated by the current administration for substantial increases in the next several years while most other agencies would receive flat or reduced funding for research. Although federal research funding began to increase after 1997, the new composition of federal support remained relatively unchanged. In 1999, the life sciences had 46 percent of federal funding for research, compared with 40 percent in 1993. During the same period, physical science and engineering funding went from 37 to 31 percent of the research portfolio. Whereas 12 of the 22 fields examined had suffered a real loss of support in the mid-1990s (four by 20 percent or more), by FY 1999 the number of fields with reduced support was seven. However, five of these—physics, geological sciences, and chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering—were down 20 percent or more from 1993. The fields of chemical and mechanical engineering and geological sciences had less funding in 1999 than in 1997. Funding of some fields—including electrical engineering and physics—improved somewhat from 1997 to 1999 but not enough to raise them back up to their 1993 levels. Other fields that failed to increase or had less funding after 1997 included astronomy, chemistry, and atmospheric sciences. 1   National Research Council, Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001. Figures referenced in the “Key Findings” reproduced in this Appendix can be found in the report, available on-line at

OCR for page 33
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 2003: FEDERAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BUDGET One field that had increased funding in the mid-1990s, materials engineering, experienced declining support at the end of the decade. Its funding was 14.0 percent larger in 1997 than in 1993, but that margin fell to 3.0 percent in 1998 and 1.5 percent in 1999. The fields whose support was up in 1997 and has continued to increase include aeronautical, astronautical, civil, and other engineering, 2 biological and medical sciences; computer sciences; and oceanography. Fields that, like overall research expenditures, turned a corner were environmental biology, agricultural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, and psychology. Their funding, which was less in 1997 than in 1993, exceed the 1993 level by 1999 (see Fig. ES-2). More recent actions on federal budgets for research, including the first installments in doubling of the NIH budget over the 5 years ending in FY 2003, will increase the current divergence between the life sciences and other fields unless other fields receive substantially larger increases than proposed. The decline in the support of many of the physical science and engineering fields is partly attributable to the fact that the budgets of their principal sponsoring agencies (e.g., DOD, DOE, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]) did not fare as well as the NIH budget and partly to the fact that the agencies with growing budgets, especially NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF), did not increase their support of those fields and in some cases reduced it. At the same time, some fields (e.g., computer sciences, oceanography, and aeronautical engineering) experienced substantial growth even though their largest 1993 funders were agencies with shrinking budgets (e.g., DOD and NASA). These fields did so by maintaining their level of funding from agencies with declining budgets and by picking up additional support from other agencies. The patterns in federal funding of basic research and research performed at universities are similar to that for overall funding of research but somewhat more favorable, suggesting that by the late 1990s agencies were tending to protect basic and university research relative to applied research and other performers. Although federal funding of research assistant positions through research grants and contracts is but one factor among many in determining the number of Ph.D.'s produced in a field, graduate enrollments and Ph.D. production were generally down in fields that had less federal funding in 1999 than in 1993. Over the next few years, these declines will contribute to an ongoing reduction in the supply of new talent for positions in governmental/nonprofit organizations, industry, academia, and other employment sectors (see Fig. ES-3). Data on the composition of industry-funded research are classified by sector rather than by field and thus are not directly comparable to those on federal expenditures. The data show that corporations ' spending on research has been increasing but is concentrated in a few sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry and the information technology sector. Electronic components was one industry in which research investment increased as federal support of the most closely related research field, electrical engineering, declined over the decade. Nevertheless, except for a few industries such as pharmaceuticals, only a small fraction (less than 5 percent in computer and semiconductors, for example) of all corporate research and development is basic research. Moreover, private research investment is quite volatile, sometimes subject to wide fluctuation from year to year with or independent of the business cycle. The shifts in federal funding of fields were partly the result of congressional (e.g., biomedical research) and presidential priorities (e.g., high-performance computing research and development); but the funding reductions were substantially the product of decentralized decision making by officials in various departments, agencies, and congressional committees, adjusting resources to agency mission needs in a constrained budget environment. Impacts on the overall composition of the federal research portfolio were not considered until FY 2000, when the administration and Congress began to discuss the balance of funding among fields, and the FY 2001 budget cycle, when for the first time balance became an explicit criterion used by the administration in developing its budget request. 2   Other engineering includes agricultural, bioengineering, biomedical, industrial and management, nuclear, ocean, and systems engineering.