Federal Science Funding Barely Keeps Pace With Inflation

Researchers fearing that the agreement between Congress and President Clinton to balance the federal budget by 2002 would decimate science funding can rest a little easier. Each of the eight major federal departments funding research will at least keep pace with or slightly exceed the 2.6 percent inflation rate in FY1998-with the exception of the Department of Agriculture, which will receive 2 percent less research funding in real dollars. As expected, Congress met or exceeded the president's b

Paul Smaglik
Nov 23, 1997

Researchers fearing that the agreement between Congress and President Clinton to balance the federal budget by 2002 would decimate science funding can rest a little easier. Each of the eight major federal departments funding research will at least keep pace with or slightly exceed the 2.6 percent inflation rate in FY1998-with the exception of the Department of Agriculture, which will receive 2 percent less research funding in real dollars. As expected, Congress met or exceeded the president's budgetary requests for R&D, with a few exceptions.

However, the FY1998 budget fails to significantly reverse the long-term trend of slow erosion in science funding in the 1990s due to inflation. Total federal research has grown at an average of less than 1 percent a year since 1990, according to a National Science Foundation analysis, "Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development" (NSF Publication 97-302). The report illustrates that 1997's 1.3 percent...

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