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New NSF Survey Finds Six States Account for Nearly Half of State Agencies' R&D Expenditures

NSF 08-309 | May 2008 | PDF format PDF  

by John E. Jankowski[1]

Results of a new survey show that state agency expenditures for research and development and R&D facilities topped $1 billion in state fiscal year 2006. Expenditures of six states, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, accounted for 49% of all state-agency research and development. This InfoBrief presents summary statistics from that survey.

Why Collect State R&D Data?

State governments play an important role in advancing knowledge—notably through their support of academic research—and in promoting science- and technology-based economic development. They also undertake their own research in support of government functions over which states have influence and responsibility, such as those related to transportation, health, and the environment. Although considerable anecdotal evidence exists of state involvement in such R&D activities, systematic state data, using consistent, uniform definitions and collection techniques, are not widely available. To help close this gap, a survey was fielded to measure R&D activity performed and funded by government agencies in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (referred to collectively in this report as state).

State R&D Expenditures Nationwide

State agencies reported approximately $1.1 billion in FY 2006 R&D and R&D facilities expenditures (table 1).[2] Of the R&D expenditure total ($1.0 billion), most ($761 million) was to support R&D activities of external performers, primarily at academic institutions ($504 million) and companies ($136 million).[3] State agencies also expended $261 million on R&D that state agencies performed themselves.

TABLE 1. State agency R&D and R&D facilities expenditures: FY 2006.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Most state R&D expenditures ($767 million) originated from state and other nonfederal sources; $256 million in state-controlled funds expended for R&D originated from the federal government. Overall, basic research expenditures accounted for 21% ($214 million) of the states' R&D total.

States' R&D Focus

The names of state agencies do not always convey a precise statement of agencies' underlying mission and are at best imperfect indicators of the specific focus of agencies' activities. Nonetheless, they do provide insight on the likely purpose of their R&D funding. Among the 252 agencies nationwide that reported any R&D expenditures, the most prevalent names indicated state responsibility in areas of natural resources (64), transportation (50), agriculture (46), and health (30) (table 2). Of the nearly 170 agencies nationwide that performed R&D, the majority had names that indicated natural resources (53) and transportation (44) functions. A similar name distribution is reported for agencies that funded R&D to external performers, namely academic institutions and companies.

TABLE 2. State agencies that perform and/or fund R&D, by functional category: FY 2006.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

State-Level R&D Expenditures and Performers

The level of reported R&D state expenditures ranged from $150,000 in Rhode Island to more than $117 million in Pennsylvania (table 3, figure 1). Three states (Pennsylvania, California, and New York) led all others in terms of total R&D state agency expenditures. Each of these three states reported R&D expenditures of more than $100 million in FY 2006 and collectively accounted for 32% of the $1 billion state total. These three states and Michigan, Ohio, and Florida accounted for nearly one-half (49%) of the state-agency R&D total.

TABLE 3. State agency expenditures for R&D, by state and performer: FY 2006.

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

FIGURE 1. State agency R&D expenditures, by state: FY 2006.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

New York agencies reported the largest level of expenditures for R&D performed internally ($42 million) in FY 2006 (table 3). Agencies in Pennsylvania ($25 million), California ($18 million), and Ohio ($18 million) reported the largest amounts of R&D funding to companies. Agencies in Pennsylvania ($69 million), New York ($57 million), and California ($57 million) reported the largest amounts of R&D funding to academic institutions (table 4).

TABLE 4. State-funded R&D expenditures at universities and colleges, reported by academic and state agency survey respondents: FY 2006.

  Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

These amounts are for R&D expenditures that flow through state agencies' budgets. The state totals do not include direct appropriations from state legislatures to universities, colleges, and private organizations. State agencies reported $0.5 billion in expenditures used to support R&D performance by academic institutions. By comparison, on a different National Science Foundation (NSF) survey, academic institutions reported expending $3.0 billion in FY 2006 on separately budgeted R&D activities that were funded from all sources of state and local government support.[4] A major factor in the difference between the totals reported to the academic and the state R&D surveys is that direct appropriations to state-run universities are included in the former but not the latter. Another likely factor is the exclusion of R&D at agricultural experiment stations from the state survey totals. Table 4 provides state-specific comparisons between state agency reports of R&D funding to the academic sector and university and college reports of R&D funding from all state and local government sources.

Data Comments

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico participated in the survey. A total of 423 state agencies were contacted, of which 416 (98.3%) responded to the survey. 252 agency respondents reported performing or funding R&D. (Maine did not report R&D details for the 10 individual agencies that were contacted but provided aggregate R&D totals for all agencies combined; those 10 agencies are excluded from these agency counts.) The data collection agent was the U.S. Census Bureau.

Two previous NSF-supported surveys of state government R&D were undertaken more than a decade ago. Because of differences in the survey populations, definition of covered R&D activities, and collection methods, the results of those surveys are not comparable with the statistics collected on the FY 2006 Survey of State R&D Expenditures.[5], [6]

The data reported here focus exclusively on R&D expenditures of state departments, agencies, commissions, and dependent entities, with the exception of state-run colleges and universities. Universities, colleges, or other higher education entities surveyed under the NSF Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges were out of scope, as respondents, for this effort. Laboratories and experiment stations controlled by state universities also were considered out of scope. Any entities determined to be nonprofit or private, as defined by Census Bureau government classification, were also excluded from the respondent universe. Several industry-specific state commissions, which are generally chartered by state legislatures, but administered independently, were considered state agencies and included in the survey.

Data Availability

A full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available in the forthcoming report State Agency Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2006 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/staterd/. Individual detailed tables from the 2006 survey may be available in advance of publication of the full report. For further information, please contact the author.


[1] John E. Jankowski, Research and Development Statistics Program, Division of Science Resources Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington VA 22230 (jjankows@nsf.gov; 703-292-7781).

[2] R&D facilities include construction projects, major renovations of buildings, and the acquisition of land and buildings used primarily for R&D.

[3] The amounts reported for companies include funding to individuals.

[4] National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. 2007. Academic Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2006. Detailed Statistical Tables NSF 08-300. Arlington, VA. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf08300/.

[5] National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies. 1990. Research and Development Expenditures of State Government Agencies: Fiscal Years 1987 and 1988. Special Report NSF 90-309. Washington, DC. (Report based on data collected by Syracuse Research Corporation.)

[6] National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies. 1999. What is the State Government Role in the R&D Enterprise? NSF 99-348. Arlington, VA. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf99348/. (Report based on Survey of State Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 1995, conducted by Battelle Memorial Institute and State Science & Technology Institute.)

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics
New NSF Survey Finds Six States Account for Nearly Half of State Agencies' R&D Expenditures
Arlington, VA (NSF 08-309) [May 2008]

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