The Bush Administration has requested significant increases in two of the Department of Defense's science and technology programs. The FY 2009 budget sent to Congress requests $703.8 million more for these programs as compared to the FY 2008 request. Under this request, funding would increase in FY 2009 for the basic research and advanced technology development programs, but decline slightly for the applied research program.
The Administration's intention to increase funding for basic research was signaled in an August 2007 memo from John Young, Director, Defense Research and Engineering to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In his thirteen-page memo, Young stated "DOD's Science and Technology investment may be inadequate to meet the imposing security threats that challenge our Nation and may not be adequately robust to take advantage of key scientific and technological opportunities that offer breakthrough advantages to our warfighters." Young called for a significant increase in funding for Foundational Sciences (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/098.html.)
Also of note was an August 2007 OSTP/OMB memo providing FY 2009 budget guidance: "In addition to the doubling effort at these three agencies [DOE Office of Science, NSF, NIST research labs], real increases (above inflation) in the high-leverage basic research of the Department of Defense should be a significant priority."
Last week, Secretary Gates described DOD's intentions in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the FY 2009 request:
"As changes in this century’s threat environment create strategic challenges - irregular warfare, weapons of mass destruction, disruptive technologies – this request places greater emphasis on basic research, which in recent years has not kept pace with other parts of the budget. This request for $11.5 billion will sustain ongoing [6.1, 6.2, 6.3] science and technology research. Within this category, the FY 2009 budget includes $1.7 billion for basic research initiatives. In total, I have directed an increase of about $1 billion over the next five years for fundamental, peer-reviewed basic research – a two percent increase in real annual growth."
Doing year-to-year comparisons for the three science and technology programs of the Department of Defense are difficult because of research earmarks. An Office of Science and Technology Policy document estimates that approximately 20 percent of total funding is earmarked in the 6.1 basic research and 6.2 applied research programs. These earmarks totaled $1.1 billion in the FY 2008 budget. Administration officials contend that these earmarks should be accounted for in year-to-year comparisons.
Allowing for these earmarks is difficult as readily-accessible information is not easily found. The Office of Management and Budget has a data base that indicates the scope and value of earmarks for various RDT&E service budgets (see http://earmarks.omb.gov/ ).
In a departure from FYI's other reviews of the budget, the following comparisons are based on the FY 2008 request as compared to the FY 2009 request. Figures are taken from the FY 2008 and FY 2009 RDT&E Programs (R-1) documents produced by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). These numbers reflect total requested funding for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense-Wide science and technology programs.
6.1 basic research funding would increase 18.9 percent or $270.5 million, from $1,428.1 million to $1,698.6 million.
6.2 applied research funding would decline 2.6 % or $111.8 million, from $4,356.7 million to $4,244.9 million.
6.3 advanced technology development funding would increase 10.9% or $544.9 million from $4,986.9 million to $5,531.8 million.
Total 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 funding would increase 6.5% or $703.8 million from $10,771.6 million to $11,475.4 million.
Readers interested in detailed figures on specific Programs and Program Elements should see http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2009/fy2009_r1.pdf . Note that the FY 2008 figures include earmarks.