Total federal obligations for R&D and R&D plant have increased steadily for most of the past decade and, according to preliminary estimates, climbed to $105.2 bln in FY 2004. This represents an increase of approximately 4% over the FY 2003 level, or 3% in inflation-adjusted dollars. The InfoBrief projects that, of the $105.2 bln total, 51% ($54.1 bln) will be used for research, 45% ($47.0 bln) for development, and 4% ($4.2 bln) for R&D plant. The share of the total devoted to research has grown an average of 6% annually since FY 1990. The share devoted to development, after decreasing since FY 1990, is estimated to grow 9% between FY 2003 and FY 2004, while the share going to R&D plant is projected to drop 21%. The federal obligation for research in FY 2004 is projected to be almost evenly split between basic research ($26.6 bln) and applied research ($27.4 bln).
Six departments and agencies are expected to account for 93% of research obligations in FY 2004: the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, NASA, NSF, and the Department of Agriculture. The life sciences, according to the InfoBrief, are expected to account for over one-half of the total research funding (54.3%). Engineering is projected to receive the next highest amount (16.9%), followed by physical sciences (10.0%), environmental sciences (7.0%), mathematics and computer sciences (5.2%), social sciences (2.2%), and psychology (1.9%), with “other sciences” receiving 2.5%.