The Public Interest

Government and Scientific Research—Some Unanswered Questions

Carl Kaysen

Summer 1971

THE administration’s proposals for research and development in the budget for fiscal year 1972 have offered the first signs of cheer in a situation that has looked increasingly dark for five years. Total budgeted R & D obligations are set at $16.7 billions, almost 8 per cent higher than the $15.5 billions of the previous fiscal year. This increase is larger than the usual estimates Of the annual increase in the cost of research activities- some 5 or 6 per cent—and thus provides at least some margin for real growth. Further, the agencies which now play the largest role in supporting academic science, Health, Education, and Welfare, National Science Foundation, and Defense (which together account for over three-quarters of federal R&D obligations to universities and colleges in the current fiscal year) had larger than average shares in the increase: 15 per cent for NSF, over 11 per cent for Defense, and almost 9 per cent for HEW. The total NSF budget, including funds for education, institutional support, and administration, goes from $506 million to $622 million, an increase of over 20 per cent. Other relatively large percentage increases went to the big civil spenders on R&D-Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, and Commerce, while NASA and AEC were cut.

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