† 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.