American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Department of Defense Fiscal Year 1999 R&D Funding for the Geosciences: Special Report (7-21-98)

Research Funding Environment

The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest federal sponsor of basic research and the third largest sponsor of academic basic research. As Congress and the federal government look to trim the budget, research and development (R&D) is often sacrificed in the immense DoD budget to more immediate needs. The seemingly small allocation for accounts supporting basic research (known as the 6.1 account), applied research and development (6.2 account), and advanced technology development (6.3 account) supports science and technology research in many colleges and universities across the country. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reports that "approximately half of DoD's $1.3 billion support of R&D at colleges and universities comes from the '6.1' account," meaning that budget cuts in DoD basic research will have an affect on the academic research climate.

Over the last year, several bills to increase different areas of R&D have been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but few of these bills contain language to include basic research in DoD. (For background information on legislation for non-defense R&D funding or science research funding in other governmental agencies, visit the Governmental Affairs legislation summaries.) In order to address that deficiency, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced S. 2081, the National Defense Science and Technology Investment Act of 1998, a bill that places emphasis on basic research and technology within the Department of Defense. The bill does not set exact spending goals, instead it allows the Secretary of Defense to advocate for "no less than 2.0 percent over inflation greater than the previous fiscal year's budget request" from FY2000 until FY2008. After being introduced in May, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

In early June, the bipartisan Senate Science and Technology Caucus held a roundtable discussion on whether or not the United States will be able to remain at the forefront of technology in the upcoming decades if federal funding for research, development, and technology continues to decrease. The introduction of a comprehensive civilian R&D funding bill, S. 2217, The Federal Research Investment Act, along with the defense-focused S. 2081 indicates that members of Congress are aware of the need to increase federal R&D funding for continued success in the global economy.

Department of Defense Funding in Fiscal Year 1999

In February, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) released a FYI bulletin, including the table below, on the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 funding requests for basic and applied research in all areas of DoD. FY99 request levels for total basic (6.1) research indicates close to a 6.7% increase over FY98 levels.
Account FY98 Appropriation
(in millions)
FY99 Request
(in millions)
Percent Change
ARMY $1,492.2 $1,195.7 -19.9%
Basic Research (6.1) 180.6 200.8 +11.2
Applied Research (6.2) 654.1 511.3 -21.8
Advanced Technology
Development (6.3)
657.5 483.6 -26.5
NAVY 1,347.1 1,348.1 +0.1
Basic Research (6.1) 338.7 362.7 +7.1
Applied Research (6.2) 493.6 524.7 +6.3
Advanced Technology
Development (6.3)
514.8 460.7 -10.5
AIR FORCE 1,189.9 1,170.7 -1.6
Basic Research (6.1) 196.3 209.4 +6.7
Applied Research (6.2) 567.8 582.0 +2.5
Advanced Technology
Development (6.3)
425.8 379.3 -10.9
DEFENSE WIDE 3,771.0 3,466.8 -8.1
Basic Research (6.1) 326.2 338.4 +3.7
Applied Research (6.2) 1,280.6 1,401.8 +9.5
Advanced Technology
Development (6.3)
2,164.2 1,726.6 -20.2
DOD R&D TOTAL 7,800.2 7,181.3 -7.9
Basic Research (6.1) 1,041.8 1,111.2 +6.7
Applied Research (6.2) 2,996.0 3,019.9 +0.8
Advanced Technology
Development (6.3)
3,762.4 3,050.2 -18.9

In early February, H.R. 4103, the Defense Department FY99 Appropriations bill, was introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations that prepared a report on the committee decisions. After a National Security Subcommittee hearing and a full committee mark-up, the bill was debated on the House floor in late June. The House passed the bill by a vote of 358-61. The Senate received the bill as passed by the House in late June and has placed it on the legislative calendar.

In early June, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed S. 2132, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1999, with several amendments. The committee report on the bill explains the changes between the Administration's proposal and the committee's decisions. On June 4, the bill was placed on the Senate legislative calendar and is pending floor debate.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science's R&D Budget and Policy Project website contains information on AAAS presentations on the budget, the Administration's budget proposal, and historical trends in the federal R&D funding. The site covers all sciences and federal agencies. There are a few figures specifically dealing with DoD, but generally the website covers budget issues for all science research included in the federal budget.

Defense Research in the Geosciences

Several projects in the geosciences and environmental sciences are funded by sections of the DoD. It does not appear, however, that changes in the FY99 Defense budget will affect general geosciences research. The primary focus of DoD research is on defense-related projects that, at times, may include geoscientists as members of the research team, but geosciences research is not a top priority for DoD. As the science community begins to work on interdisciplinary research in areas like the environment, the role of geoscientists in DoD may change.

Overall funding for environmental science research is increasing, especially with the Administration's focus on environmental programs like the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and Climate Change Technology Initiative (CCTI), both of which are interagency programs that include DoD.

Interagency programs like USGCRP include projects that do fall under some of DoD research applications. The USGCRP FY99 budget notes that the main purpose of DoD is research in national security needs, but there is $6.7 million from the DoD budget in defense-related projects that complement the research goals of the USGCRP. It is not clear to what extent DoD will be active in the CCTI.

DoD funding for college and university research focuses on computer science and engineering, but does support some research in oceanography and material engineering. Combined funding from DoD, NASA, and Department of Energy accounts for about 47% of graduate funding in "physical sciences," which was neither defined nor itemized.

Several services of DoD fund projects and programs of interest to geoscientists that are listed below with a short description of the projects where available.

Sources: AAAS Report XXIII: Research and Development FY99, Thomas database, American Association for the Advancement of Science website, American Institute of Physics website, House Committee on Appropriations website, Senate Committee on Appropriations website, and Department of Defense websites.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs Intern.

Last updated July 21, 1998

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