Research and development > Item 1 - Purpose and Function of Our Government - General > PART I > Government 10-K

Government 10-K PART I Item 1 - Purpose and Function of Our Government - General

Research and development

Published on Mon, May 17, 2021 9:00AM PDT | Updated Mon, May 17, 2021 9:13AM PDT

Fiscal year

(In millions)

1980

 

1990

 

2000

 

2010

 

2017

 

2018

 

2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federal R&D outlays by agency 1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All agencies

$29,154

 

$62,135

 

$76,898

 

$131,388

 

$110,000

 

$117,072

 

$127,853

Department of Defense

13,501

 

36,703

 

38,519

 

67,615

 

41,292

 

44,843

 

49,640

Department of Health and Human Services

3,477

 

8,309

 

18,187

 

34,928

 

31,169

 

32,997

 

35,778

Department of Energy

4,697

 

5,508

 

6,068

 

8,986

 

12,020

 

14,607

 

17,173

NASA

3,465

 

6,324

 

6,424

 

7,316

 

10,528

 

10,765

 

10,759

All other

4,014

 

5,291

 

7,700

 

12,543

 

14,991

 

13,860

 

14,503

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher education R&D expenditures 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total higher education

$6,063

 

$16,290

 

$30,084

 

$61,287

 

$75,278

 

$79,165

 

83,653

Federal government – all agencies 3

4,098

 

9,640

 

17,548

 

37,478

 

40,295

 

41,910

 

44,534

Department of Health and Human Services

na

 

na

 

na

 

na

 

21,620

 

22,829

 

24,413

Department of Defense

na

 

na

 

na

 

na

 

5,635

 

5,894

 

6,655

National Science Foundation

na

 

na

 

na

 

na

 

5,205

 

5,270

 

5,331

All other

na

 

na

 

na

 

na

 

7,765

 

7,843

 

8,056

State and local government

491

 

1,324

 

2,200

 

3,887

 

4,174

 

4,311

 

4,505

Institution funds

835

 

3,006

 

5,925

 

11,943

 

18,916

 

20,254

 

21,154

Business

236

 

1,127

 

2,156

 

3,202

 

4,432

 

4,721

 

5,058

All other

403

 

1,193

 

2,255

 

4,777

 

7,461

 

7,969

 

8,402

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: National Science Foundation. Details may not add to totals due to rounding.

†† We limited the data in this table to the years presented to provide the most recent data but to also fit the table to the page. Additional years of data and more detail may be found on our website. Click “More detail” to access it.

na An “na” reference in the table means the data is not available.

1 Represents pure R&D, excludes facilities and fixed equipment.

2 Science and Engineering R&D only.

3 Federal Expenditures are also counted in Federal R&D Outlays by Agency above. Details may not add to totals, as details and totals were taken from two separate data sources. In addition, for the agency detail, beginning in FY 2012, institutions reporting less than $1 million in total R&D expenditures completed a shorter version of the survey questionnaire and those totals are not reflected here.

Our Government spends money on research and development (R&D) to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare of our citizens and in pursuit of specific goals, such as weapons in an effort to assure the safety and security of US citizens and vaccines against disease. More broadly, R&D spending can foster innovation, which can fuel economic growth, create jobs, and ultimately enhance our Government’s financial position by broadening the tax base. Government R&D spending also promotes scientific and engineering skills in the workforce, in an effort to keep the US at the forefront of global innovation.

In 2019, 39% of federal R&D outlays were for the Department of Defense, with most of that devoted to the development of advanced weapons systems such as the Joint Strike Fighter. The Department of Energy also carries out R&D on nuclear weapons, in addition to basic scientific research in areas such as nuclear physics and the biological and environmental sciences. At the National Institutes of Health, which accounts for about a third of federal R&D spending, research is focused in understanding, diagnosing, preventing, and treating illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. NASA is funding research for projects, including advanced electronic propulsion systems and space habitation projects.

Much of our Government’s research is carried out under contract by private-sector companies or at colleges, universities, hospitals, and private research institutions. Our Government conducts research in several hundred laboratories around the country, such as the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory near Santa Fe, New Mexico.