Federal Research and Development: Budgeting and Priority-Setting, 1993-2000 Page: 2 of 40
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Federal Research and Development:
Budgeting and Priority-Setting, 1993-2000
During his two Administrations, President Clinton linked research and
development (R&D) to economic growth and sought partnerships between govern-
ment and business in research and innovation. In contrast to the two previous
Administrations which increased defense R&D relative to civilian R&D, the Clinton
Administration sought to reduce defense R&D funding and to increase funding for
civilian R&D, including at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National
Science Foundation (NSF), and for environmentalresearch. The Republican majority
priorities during the 104th to 106th Congresses stressed, in large part, deficit reduction,
deregulation and tax incentives to foster market-driven innovation, and support for
civilian basic research and defense R&D as governmental functions.
Both President Clinton's and Congress's R&D priorities reflected moves to
balance the budget. As a result, in terms of constant dollars (that is, inflation-adjusted
dollars) of budget authority, federal R&D was funded below the previous high
funding level (FY1992) for each year from FY1993 to FY1999. During this period,
pressures mounted to raise funding for R&D programs. As budget surpluses started
to grow (beginning in 1997), Congress circumvented or raised caps imposed on the
discretionary portion of the federal budget, and as a result, major R&D funding
increases were made in the FY1998 to FY2001 budget cycles. In constant dollars,
FY2001 funding for nondefense R&D was 28% higher than for FY1993, while
FY2001 defense R&D was 6% less than for FY1993. Civilian R&D increases were
led by NIH whose R&D budget grew 72% in constant dollars between these two
years, followed by increases for R&D at NSF, at 40%; the Commerce Department,
22%; the Environmental Protection Agency, 20%; the Agriculture Department, 16%;
and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2%. Between FY1993 and
FY2001, the Energy Department's R&D budget was cut 7% in constant dollars.
FY2001 appropriations action funded defense and non-defense R&D at about the
same dollar amount for the first time since 1977.
Debates about priority-setting for R&D included increasing R&D in non-health
related fields to the same extent as in the health sciences fields; coordinating federal
agency R&D budgets to promote national needs as well as support of cutting-edge
science; and ensuring accountability for R&D spending. Special studies and caucuses
dealing with science policy were initiated in the House and Senate. In 1998, the
House passed a resolution endorsing the science policy study conducted by
Congressman Vernon Ehlers. The Senate passed a bill that would have increased
future R&D by specified minimum percentages, required the President to develop a
coordinated R&D budget, and enhanced R&D accountability.
Potential issues during the 107th Congress could include whether R&D funding
increases will be maintained in the face of potential tax cuts and economic slowdown,
funding levels for defense R&D and nondefense energy-related R&D, the funding
priority accorded areas of civilian R&D other than health research, and funding levels
for federal technology development programs.
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Federal Research and Development: Budgeting and Priority-Setting, 1993-2000, report, March 14, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc807319/m1/2/: accessed January 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.