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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Latest Statistics Reveal Increase in Federal Support of U.S. R&D

The latest statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development reveal that federal agencies provided $109.7 billion for research and development (R&D) activities in 2004, part of a decade-long average increase of 4.7 percent each year.

The survey also shows that research accounted for 48.6 percent of total federal R&D money in 2004, with 42.5 percent of those research dollars going to universities and colleges.

Research is broken into two categories: basic and applied. Basic research focuses on gaining a fuller understanding of fundamental phenomena and observable facts, while applied research focuses on gaining knowledge to determine the means by which a specific need may be met.

Federal agencies contributed 23.8 percent of R&D budgets to basic research, with the Department of Health and Human Services providing the most support at 56.5 percent, mainly from the National Institutes of Health. The National Science Foundation provided the next largest proportion, at 13.4 percent.

In support of development activities, federal agencies contributed 47.7 percent, with the Department of Defense (DoD) accounting for most of the funding, at 45.9 percent (excluding DoD's major systems development activities). NASA was the next largest supporter of development activities at 21.9 percent.

Also in 2004, the Survey of Industrial Research and Development (sponsored by NSF and the U.S. Bureau of the Census) showed that companies spent $208 billion on R&D in the United States, compared to $201 billion in 2003. The survey represents all for-profit companies, publicly or privately held with five or more employees.

In October, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released calculations that showed that R&D accounted for a substantial share of the resurgence in U.S. economic growth in recent years. Using data from NSF's annual surveys of government, academic, industry and non-profit R&D expenditures, the bureau determined R&D contributed 6.5 percent of economic growth between 1995 and 2002.

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