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Prepare Yourself to Talk about Federal Science Funding at Risk

What You Need to Know

Over the past several years, federal investments in research and development have been decreasing.  While the historical numbers appear to be trending upwards, when we look at buying power as a function of inflation and convert the numbers to a constant point, we can see the sharp reduction over time.

Graph of "Federal R&D Spending Last 10 Years"
Credit: Matthew Genovese
HTML/Text Version

Historically, funding for research and development has been 1.2% of GDP, but with the recent cuts, we find that the numbers are able to barely keep up with inflation.  ACS urges policymakers to restore investments in federal R&D funding to levels closer to the 1.2% of GDP.

Effect of Sequestration on Federal Funding

(dollars in millions)

Agency/Program

FY2012

FY2013

FY2014

FY2015

FY2016*

Dept. of Defense Science & Technology

13,950

12,360

13,120

13,450

13,000

Dept. of Energy Science & Technology

11,320

11,010

12,160

11,750

12,270

National Institutes of Health

31,420

29,160

29,660

29,030

29,180

National Science Foundation

7,440

7,100

7,230

7,340

7,600

National Institute of Standards & Technology: Scientific & Technical Research & Services

567

579.8

651

675.5

754.7

*Reflects President's requested budget

In 2013, the U.S. took a cut of nearly 1 trillion dollars over 10 years to federal financing.  This cut, called sequestration, has dramatically reduced federal support for basic scientific research and development.

What You Can Do

Contact your representatives and local media to stress the need to sustain predictable federal scientific investment to enable long-term economic growth.

  • Emphasize how federal investment in science & technology (S&T) pays important dividends.  Share how federal agencies have funded your research and helped shape your career.  In simple, layman’s terms give examples of how your research has led to important discoveries.
  • Explain that while we understand the economic climate is difficult, sustained federal investment in R&D and STEM education is critical to growing the economy and enhancing U.S. competitiveness.
  • Augment your message with examples.