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Federal Obligations for Science and Engineering to Universities and Colleges Show Little Growth

NSF 12-306 | February 2012 | PDF format. PDF  
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by Michael Yamaner[1]

The most recent statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions show that in FY 2008 federal agencies obligated $28.4 billion to 1,316 academic institutions for science and engineering (S&E) activities. Although this total represents a 0.9% increase in current dollars over FY 2007 levels, it represents a 1.4% decrease in inflation-adjusted 2005 dollars (henceforth, constant 2005 dollars). From FY 2004 to FY 2008 obligations increased by 4.0% in current dollars, but when measured in constant 2005 dollars, obligations fell by 7.5% (table 1). Unless otherwise stated, all percentage changes for federal obligations listed below are in current dollars.

TABLE 1. Federal academic S&E obligations, by activity: FY 2004–08
Fiscal
year
All federal
obligations
  Research and
development
  R&D
plant
Facilities and
equipment for
S&E instruction
Fellowships,
traineeships,
and training
grants
General
support
for S&E
Other
S&E
activities
  Current dollars (millions)
2004 27,338 23,811 382 83 1,048 421 1,593
2005 28,042 r 24,684 r 422 40 1,046 389 1,462
2006 28,265 r 24,992 r 309 17 1,037 323 1,588
2007 28,182 r 24,998 r 279 13 1,101 222 1,569
2008 28,425 25,482 275 4 862 300 1,502
Constant 2005 dollars (millions)
2004 28,230 24,588 394 86 1,082 435 1,645
2005 28,042 24,684 422 40 1,046 389 1,462
2006 27,330 24,166 299 16 1,003 312 1,535
2007 26,479 23,488 262 12 1,034 209 1,474
2008 26,102 23,399 253 4 792 275 1,379

r = data revised; replaces previously published data.

S&E = science and engineering.

NOTES: After the close of the FY 2007 survey cycle Department of Defense discovered a programming error made during the FY 2005 survey cycle that caused each advanced technology development dollar to be reported twice—once as advanced technology development and once as major systems development. Data for FY 2005–07 were revised to correct this error.

Gross domestic product implicit price deflators were used to convert current to constant dollars. Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Categories of Academic S&E Support

Federal academic S&E obligations include six categories: research and development, which has accounted for 87%–90% annually of total federal academic S&E obligations between FY 2004 and FY 2008; 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 (table 1).

Federal academic R&D obligations reached $25.5 billion in FY 2008, a 1.9% current-dollar increase (a 0.4% decrease in constant 2005 dollars) over the prior year. Between FY 2004 and FY 2008 R&D obligations increased by 7%. However, when measured in constant 2005 dollars, these obligations decreased by 4.8% (table 1).

Four of the five remaining S&E categories showed decreased funding levels in FY 2008 compared with FY 2007.

  • Federal obligations for FTTGs decreased by 21.7% to $862 million, almost all of which resulted from funding reductions by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and NSF.
  • Funds for facilities and equipment for S&E instruction fell by 69.2% to $4 million, stemming entirely from decreased support from the Department of Defense (DOD).
  • Funding for R&D plant projects totaled $275 million in FY 2008, a 1.4% decrease over the previous year.
  • Obligations for other S&E activities decreased by 4.3% to $1.5 billion.

Agency Sources

HHS accounted for 60% of all federal FY 2008 academic S&E obligations. Three agencies—NSF (15%), DOD (10%), and HHS—provided 86% of total federal academic S&E funding. The Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) provided most of the remaining academic S&E total (11%). Of these six agencies, DOE, NASA, and NSF showed increased levels of inflation-adjusted obligations for academic S&E in FY 2008 (table 2).

TABLE 2. Federal academic S&E obligations, by agency in FY 2008 rank order: FY 2004–08
Fiscal year All agencies   HHS NSF DODa   USDA DOE NASAb Otherc
Current dollars (millions)
2004 27,338  16,499 4,188 2,470 1,154 804 1,176 1,048
2005 28,042 r 17,216 3,950 2,396 r 1,229 940 1,091 1,221
2006 28,265 r 17,163 4,099 2,570 r 1,263 902 975 1,293
2007 28,182 r 17,527 4,210 2,820 r 1,253 814 553 1,005
2008 28,425 17,180 4,404 2,823 1,251 1,089 673 1,003
Constant 2005 dollars (millions)
2004 28,230 17,037 4,325 2,551 1,192 830 1,214 1,082
2005 28,042 17,216 3,950 2,396 1,229 940 1,091 1,221
2006 27,330 16,595 3,963 2,485 1,221 872 943 1,250
2007 26,479 16,468 3,956 2,650 1,177 765 520 944
2008 26,102 15,776 4,044 2,592 1,149 1,000 618 921

r = data revised; replaces previously published data.

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation; S&E = science and engineering; USDA = Department of Agriculture.

a After the close of the FY 2007 survey cycle Department of Defense discovered a programming error made during the FY 2005 survey cycle that caused each advanced technology development dollar to be reported twice—once as advanced technology development and once as major systems development. Data for FY 2005–07 were revised to correct this error.

b Between FY 2006 and FY 2007 NASA's R&D obligations decreased for two reasons: (1) In FY 2007 NASA excluded projects that were operational in nature that were not excluded in FY 2006, and (2) there was an overall decrease in obligations between FY 2006 and FY 2007, which accounts for the remainder of the decrease.  

c Includes data for the following agencies: Departments of Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation; Agency for International Development; Environmental Protection Agency; Appalachian Regional Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Justice Programs (part of Department of Justice); and Social Security Administration.

NOTE:  Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.  

SOURCE:  National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

University Shares

The Johns Hopkins University (including its Applied Physics Laboratory) continued to be the leading academic recipient of federal S&E obligations in FY 2008. Together, HHS and DOD provided Johns Hopkins with 92% of its federal S&E funds. The leading 20 universities ranked in terms of federal academic S&E obligations accounted for 34% of the federal academic S&E total in FY 2008 (table 3). All 20 of these academic recipients were also ranked among the top 20 recipients in FY 2007.

TABLE 3. Federal academic S&E obligations to the 20 universities receiving the largest amounts, by agency: FY 2008
(Dollars in millions)
Institution All federal
obligations
HHS NSF DOD USDA DOE NASA Other
agenciesa
All institutions 28,424.7 17,180  4,404.4 2,823.4 1,251.2  1,089.4 673.3 1,003
Top 20 institutions 9,779.7 7,023.7 1,035.7 963.7 137.1 289.8 189.8 140.2
Johns Hopkins U., Theb 1,113.3 623.9 24.6 405.3 0.7 3.3 51.2 4.3
U. WA 613.4 417.6 81.4 49.7 3.6 22.1 10.7 28.3
U. MI all campuses 587 430.4 68.2 53.5 0.8 13.4 8.6 12.1
U. CA, San Francisco 522.5 514.1 1.2 4.6 0 1 0.8 0.7
U. PA 518.7 451.7 28 25.5 0.4 9.1 1.8 2.2
U. CA, San Diego 518 347.6 90.6 42.8 0.9 14.2 5.4 16.4
U. CA, Los Angeles 512 375.9 58.5 40.1 0 22.7 13.2 1.6
U. WI-Madison 453.1 254.2 89.2 12.4 27.8 51.1 8.3 10.3
Harvard U. 437.4 370.1 37.3 15.7 0 4.5 6.8 3.1
Columbia U. in the City of New York 433.1 317.6 74.1 10 0 9.3 8.6 13.5
Duke U. 430.9 368.9 35.1 11.2 0 9.4 1.3 5
U. Pittsburgh all campuses 429.9 386.1 20.1 16.8 0.5 3.3 1.1 2.2
Washington U. St. Louis 425.6 390 20.8 2.6 0 4.7 7.4 0.1
Yale U. 419.6 372.6 27.4 5.7 2.2 10.9 0.6 0.2
Stanford U. 419.2 297.5 50.4 32.4 0 15.9 20.4 2.7
U. NC Chapel Hill 410 360.9 28.2 6.4 0.4 3.5 0.5 10.1
MA Institute of Technology 405.8 210.7 57.1 49.4 1.8 58.8 20.8 7.2
U. MN all campuses 390.1 269.8 64.1 6.2 29.3 7.3 5.1 8.2
Cornell U. all campuses 373.8 173 128.2 16.4 36.3 8.1 5.6 6.2
PA State U. all campuses 366.3 91.1 51.2 157 32.4 17.2 11.6 5.8
All other academic institutions 18,644.8  10,156.1 3,368.6  1,859.6 1,114.1 799.7 483.7 863.1

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation; S&E = science and engineering; USDA = Department of Agriculture.

a Includes data for Departments of Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation; Agency for International Development; Environmental Protection Agency; Appalachian Regional Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Justice Programs (part of Department of Justice); and Social Security Administration.

b Includes funding for Applied Physics Laboratory.

NOTE: Detail may not sum to total due to rounding.

SOURCE:  National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions, FY 2008.

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

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. Between FY 2007 and FY 2008 federal S&E obligations to nonprofit institutions decreased from $6.9 billion to $6.5 billion (5.8% decrease). DOD was the main source of the decrease in funding ($214 million of the $401 million decrease, or 53%). The MITRE Corporation received the most federal funds for R&D and R&D plant ($323 million) among nonprofits in FY 2008, with DOD providing almost 100% of this funding (table 4).

TABLE 4. Federal research and development and R&D plant obligations to the 10 independent nonprofit institutions receiving the largest amounts, by agency: FY 2008
(Dollars in thousands)
Institution All federal
obligations
HHS DOD NSF NASA DOE Other
agenciesa
All nonprofit institutions 6,471,044  4,019,551  1,413,207  418,133  199,577  189,080 231,496
Top 10 nonprofit institutions 2,206,143 1,145,147 860,036 160,363 3,135 23,298 14,164
MITRE Corp. 322,882 0 322,105 199 0 384 194
Massachusetts General Hospital 316,173 298,575 15,761 1,262 575 0 0
Battelle Memorial Institute 307,733 1,600 268,557 64 948 22,914 13,650
Brigham and Women's Hospital 254,107 250,905 1,768 0 1,114 0 320
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Ctr. 224,163 223,385 595 183 0 0 0
Mayo Foundation 187,372 184,519 2,355 0 498 0 0
Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the
   Advancement of Military Medicine
156,160 41,717 114,183 260 0 0 0
Associated Universities Inc. 155,333 0 0 155,333 0 0 0
IIT Research Institute 142,003 8,078 133,925 0 0 0 0
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 140,217 136,368 787 3,062 0 0 0
All other nonprofit institutions 4,264,901 2,874,404 553,171 257,770 196,442 165,782 217,332

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation.

a Includes data for the following agencies: Departments of Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation; Agency for International Development; Environmental Protection Agency; Appalachian Regional Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Justice Programs (part of Department of Justice); and Social Security Administration.

SOURCE:  National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions, FY 2008.

  Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

The 10 nonprofit institutions that received the largest amounts of these federal funds in FY 2008 received 34% of the total funding that went to all nonprofits. Six of these 10 nonprofit recipients were hospitals or medical research institutes. Eight of these leading 10 nonprofits in FY 2008 also ranked among the top 10 in the prior year. The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (ranked 7th in FY 2008, after being 11th the prior year) and Associated Universities Inc. (ranked 8th in FY 2008, after being ranked 13th the prior year) were part of the top 10, whereas the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories (ranked 60th in FY 2008, after being 5th in FY 2007) and SRI International (ranked 11th in FY 2008, after being 10th in FY 2007) fell out of the top 10. Of all nonprofit recipients that were hospitals or medical research institutes, Massachusetts General Hospital received the largest amount ($316 million) of federal R&D and R&D plant obligations (table 4).

Data Sources and Limitations

The data on federal S&E obligations to academic and nonprofit institutions presented in this InfoBrief were obtained from 19 agencies that participated in the FY 2008 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. The six funding categories of federal S&E support are defined as follows:

  • Research and development includes all direct, indirect, incidental, or related costs resulting from or necessary to performing R&D by private individuals and organizations under grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.
  • R&D plant includes all projects whose principal purpose is to provide support for construction, acquisition, renovation, modification, repair, or rental of facilities, land, works, or fixed equipment for use in scientific or engineering R&D.
  • Facilities and equipment for S&E instruction include all programs whose principal purpose is to provide support for construction, acquisition, renovation, modification, repair, or rental of facilities, land, works, or equipment for use in instruction in S&E.
  • Fellowships, traineeships, and training grants include all fellowship, traineeship, and training grant programs that are directed primarily toward the development and maintenance of the scientific workforce.
  • General support for S&E are funds used for scientific projects and support for activities within a specified discipline; explicit purpose is not specified.
  • Other S&E activities include all 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.

The full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available in the report Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: FY 2008 at http://nsf.gov/statistics/fedsupport/. Individual detailed tables from the FY 2008 survey may be available in advance of the full report. For more information, please contact the author.

Note

[1]  Michael Yamaner, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (myamaner@nsf.gov; 703-292-7815).


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Federal Obligations for Science and Engineering to Universities and Colleges Show Little Growth
Arlington, VA (NSF 12-306) [February 2012]


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