The latest statistics from the National Science
Foundation (NSF) Survey of Federal Science and
Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit
Institutions show that federal agencies obligated
a new high of $27.3 billion to academic institutions for
science and engineering (S&E) activities in FY 2004,
an increase of 2.5% in current dollars (0.1% in constant
dollars) over FY 2003 levels (table 1). This increase
follows a 9% current-dollar increase (7% in constant
dollars) in total federal academic S&E support between
FY 2002 and FY 2003.
Table 1 Source Data: Excel file
Categories of Support
Federal academic S&E obligations are divided into six
categories: research and development (R&D), which
has accounted for 84%–87% of total federal academic
S&E obligations over the last decade (figure 1); R&D plant; facilities and equipment for S&E instruction;
fellowships, traineeships, and training grants (FTTGs);
general support for S&E; and other S&E activities.
Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file
Federal academic R&D obligations reached a new high
of $23.8 billion in FY 2004, a 4% current-dollar increase
(2% in constant dollars) over the prior year (table 1).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
accounted for 63% ($15.1 billion) of all federal academic
R&D obligations in FY 2004 (table 2) and for virtually all
of the total R&D increase between FY 2003 and FY 2004.
Table 2 Source Data: Excel file
Federal support in FY 2004 for R&D plant fell by nearly
one-half (47%), to a level of $382 million (table 1).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) (within HHS)
was directly responsible for virtually all of the decrease
in academic R&D plant as it was for 90% of the
academic R&D plant increase the prior year, which
had included one-time increases exceeding $100 million
at both Boston University and the University of Texas
Medical Branch at Galveston.
One of the four remaining S&E categories, FTTGs,
was also at record funding levels in FY 2004.
- Federal obligations for FTTGs increased 10% to
more than $1 billion, with HHS's Health Resources
and Services Administration providing most of the
- Obligations for other S&E activities decreased by
4%, to $1.6 billion.
- Funds for facilities and equipment for S&E instruction
fell to $83 million, a 4% decrease, with HHS
reporting most of the decline.
- Funding for general support projects totaled $421
million, a 2% decrease stemming almost entirely
from decreased Department of Commerce support.
The Department of Health and Human Services
accounted for 60% of all federal FY 2004 academic
S&E obligations (table 3). Three agencies, NSF (15%
of academic S&E), the Department of Defense (DOD)
(9% of academic S&E), and HHS, when combined,
provided 85% of total federal academic S&E funding.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) provided most of the
remaining academic S&E total, over 11% of academic
S&E federal funding. Of these six agencies, three,
NASA, DOD, and USDA decreased their FY 2004
academic S&E levels in constant dollars.
Table 3 Source Data: Excel file
The Johns Hopkins University (including its Applied
Physics Laboratory) continued to be the leading
academic recipient of federal academic S&E obligations
in FY 2004 (table 4). Together, HHS and DOD
provided Johns Hopkins with almost five-sixths of its
federal S&E funds. Over $4 of every $5 in the
university's total federal S&E obligations ($1.27 billion)
supported R&D programs, with most of the remainder
allocated to other S&E activities.
Table 4 Source Data: Excel file
The top 20 universities in terms of federal academic
S&E obligations accounted for 35% of the federal
academic S&E total in FY 2004. Eighteen of these 20
academic recipients were also ranked among the top 20
recipients in the previous year. Cornell University
(ranked 17th in FY 2004, jumping from 21st in FY 2003)
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ranked
20th in FY 2004, up from 23rd in FY 2003) replaced
Boston University (ranked 37th in FY 2004, dropping
from 17th the previous year) and the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill (ranked 21st in FY 2004,
after being 20th the prior year).
There were more academic institutions receiving
federal S&E support in FY 2004 (1,243 academic
institutions) than there had been in any of the previous
31 years. Over the last decade, a decrease in the
number of universities and colleges that received R&D
obligations (down to 872 institutions in FY 2004, from
934 institutions in FY 1994) has been offset by strong
growth in the numbers that had R&D plant and FTTGs
support. Support in these two "capacity-building"
categories, when combined, went from 771 institutions
in FY 1994 to 962 institutions in FY 2004.
Federal S&E Support to Nonprofit Institutions
NSF collects statistics on federal obligations to independent
nonprofit institutions for two of the six S&E categories—R&D and R&D plant. Such federal
obligations increased by over 6%, to a new high of $6.1
billion, between FY 2003 and FY 2004 (table 5). Most of
the increased funding was from DOD and HHS, primarily
from NIH. Massachusetts General Hospital received
the most federal R&D and R&D plant funds among
nonprofits in FY 2004, with HHS providing most of its
federal support. The 10 top-ranked nonprofit institutions
in terms of these federal funds in FY 2004 received
31% of the total funding to all nonprofits. Six of these
10 nonprofit recipients were hospitals or medical
research institutes. Nine of these leading 10 nonprofits
in FY 2004 also ranked among the top 10 in the prior
year. In FY 2004, the IIT Research Institute replaced
the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research within
the top 10 nonprofits. Of all nonprofit recipients that
were not hospitals or medical research institutes, the
Mitre Corporation received the largest amount ($284
million) of federal R&D and R&D plant obligations.
Table 5 Source Data: Excel file
The data on federal academic S&E obligations to
academic and nonprofit institutions presented in this
InfoBrief were obtained from 19 agencies that participated
in the FY 2004 Survey of Federal Science and
Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and
Nonprofit Institutions. The survey collects federal S&E
support data by funding agency, institution, type of
activity, type of institution, and geographic location.
Profiles for individual doctorate-granting institutions and
for schools with S&E departments that grant master's degrees are available at www.nsf.gov/statistics/profiles.
These profiles contain data from this survey and from
the Survey of Research and Development Expenditures
at Universities and Colleges and the Survey of Graduate
Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.
Data from the three surveys are also available
via NSF's WebCASPAR database system, a Web tool
for retrieval and analysis of statistical data on academic
S&E resources (http://webcaspar.nsf.gov).
The full set of detailed statistical tables on the FY
2004 Survey of Federal Science and Engineering
Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit
Institutions will be available online at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedsupport/. Individual detailed
tables from the 2004 survey may be available in
advance of publication of the full report. For further
Richard J. Bennof
Division of Science Resources Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230
 Academic S&E obligations that cannot be assigned elsewhere
and activities in support of technical conferences, teacher institutes,
and programs aimed at increasing precollege and undergraduate
students' scientific knowledge.
 Funds used for scientific projects and support for activities
within a specified discipline; explicit purpose is not specified.
 In FY 2004, NASA implemented a full-cost budget approach
that includes all of the direct and indirect costs for procurement,
personnel, travel and other infrastructure-related expenses
relative to a particular program and project. Data for FY 2004 may
not be directly comparable to data for FY 2003.