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CRS – Federal Support for Academic Research

Federal Support for Academic Research. Christine M. Matthews, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, October 18, 2012

  • “From the time of Vannevar Bush and his 1945 report on U.S. science policy, Science The Endless Frontier, academic research has played a role in the nation’s economy. Vannevar Bush’s report, Science the Endless Frontier, maintained that major investments in research should be made to the nation’s universities. He stated that the research capacity of the colleges and universities was significantly important to long-term national interests. Currently, some Members of Congress have expressed concern about the health and competitiveness of the nation’s colleges and universities. There are those who continue to maintain that the long-term competitiveness of the nation is linked to the strength of the academic research infrastructure. It has been shown that academic research is integrated into the economy and impacts at both the local and national level. By one estimate, approximately 80% of leading industries have resulted from research conducted at colleges and universities. Colleges and universities are the primary performers of basic research, with the federal government being the largest funding source. In FY2008, the federal government provided approximately 60% of an estimated $51.9 billion of research and development funds expended by academic institutions. When measured in current dollars, federal academic support increased by 2.5% between FY2007 and FY2008. When inflation is taken into account, it equates to an increase of 0.2% from FY2007 to FY2008 following two years of decline in constant dollars since FY2005. An issue before the 112th Congress is that with further budget reductions expected, how does the nation best reduce the budget while adjusting the support for research conducted at colleges and universities?”
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