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  • Writer's pictureRon Ben Tsvi

$151 billion reasons to care about the federal budget for R&D in 2018

BAAs Large Scale Grants
BAAs Large Scale Grants

**Correction: On March 23, 2018 the Omnibus budget for FY2018 passed increasing the R&D budget to $173.6 Billion!

On the surface it seems that President Trump has slashed federal spending on research and development (R&D) for FY2018. Should we be worried? Not at all…

These numbers are misleading, and the dip is actually the result of a change in semantics.

Before we explain, let us first take a look at the numbers. In FY2016 (the numbers are still coming in for FY2017) the government allocated $148.3 billion for R&D. President Trump has requested $117.7 billion for R&D which is a decrease of just over $30 Billion! Not that anyone is belittling $117.7 Billion but a 20% reduction in budget can make a serious impact. With less funding available there could be gloomy ramifications for the advancement of technology, health solutions, as well as education research to name a few.

But before you panic, know this: a new definition was adopted ahead of the FY2018 budget. The term “development” came to refer to “experimental development.” Therefore, the 2018 budget for R&D excludes roughly $33.5 Billion of funding which no longer fell under the category of R&D. These exclusions should receive funding in alternative routes.

When adjusted to include the supplementary budget we discover that Trump’s budget is actually $151.2 billion! Provided Congress passes the Trump administration’s budget request, 2018 looks to be an exciting year for R&D.

Broken down by Agency

The big winners of FY2018 budget for R&D are 8 agencies that receive the lion’s share of the budget (96.5%).

The breakdown is as follows:

Dept. of Defense – $84.3 B Dept. of Health & Human Services – $26.1 B Dept. of Energy – $13.4 B NASA – $12.8 B Natl. Science Foundation – $5.4 B Dept. of Agriculture – $2 B Dept. of Commerce – $1.6 B Dept. of Veterans Affairs – $1.4 B Dept. of Transportation – $923 M Dept. of Interior – $818 M Dept. of Homeland Security – $564 M Environmental Protection Agency – $277 M Other – $1.6 B

SOURCES: – Congressional Research Service – CRS analysis of data from Executive Office of the President (EOP), Office of Management and Budget, Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2018, May 23, 2017, p. 203-205,


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