With the R&D budget increases noted in the previ- ous sections which were approved for FY2019, the primary focus of research managers in government labs changes from struggling to meet tight budgets
to now one of struggling to actually perform the research.
Meeting the staffing levels necessary to accomplish those
tasks has also become more difficult as the unemployment
rates have fallen.
For security reasons, government research labs are often
located in out of the way sites and distant from traditional
centers of commerce. This further increases the R&D
manager’s problems in trying to recruit and retain research
personnel. The security restrictions inherent in government-based R&D further limit the pool of potential candidates
and raises the costs of finding and hiring qualified researchers.
Some federal labs, tasked with increased funding for
More Basic Research
increased research workloads, now also find themselves
looking for work spaces where they might house new R&D
employees without discouraging or depressing the new
researchers that they worked so hard to find. Some research
managers may find themselves creating temporary research
and office facilities in which to house their new employees
until they find more permanent solutions.
Another issue in this scenario is that the unique govern-
ment funding increase created for FY2019 may not be contin-
ued with a new funding cycle due to political changes. Solving
the current hiring and housing situations would be doubly
worrisome if a specific funding process was discontinued in
just one or two short years.
Just a few years ago, researchers were lamenting about the continuing decline of basic research in the United States. A MIT
report, “Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit,” noted that countries such as
China were continuing to commit more resources to research.
Fiscal cuts in the U.S. could cause long-term damage to the
U.S. Basic Research was at the lowest fraction of the federal budget since World War II. Issues such as leadership in
supercomputing, data theft, quantum computing, robotics
and cyber security were in dire need of basic research funding
according to the report.
Some of those concerns were addressed in the FY2019
R&D budgets as the NSF, NIH, DOE/OS, NASA and DOD all
received basic research increases of at least 2.9%. The DOD,
for example, was scheduled to receive a 19.4% basic research
increase or $455 million, which equated to $529 million
above the Pentagon’s budget request.
Some changes seen:
• The DOD received a 7.6% overall R&D increase to
$15.973 billion, $2.3 billion more that was proposed and
$1.1 billion over their FY2018 R&D budget.
• The DOE received a 5.2% R&D increase to $6.585 billion,
$1.2 billion more than was proposed and $0.325 billion
over their FY2018 R&D budget.
• The NIH received a 5.2% R&D increase to $39.234 billion, $4.5 billion more than was proposed and $2 billion
over their FY2018 R&D budget.
Changes in Federal R&D Rules
U.S. Federal Government 2019 R&D
R&D Survey Responses
DHS 0.813 0.230 0.000
DOD 15.973 2.300 1.100
DOE 6.585 1.200 0.325
EPA 0.489 0.065 0.000
HHS 0.338 0.338 0.004
NASA 21.323 1.431 0.587
NIH 39.234 4.500 2.000
NIST 1.038 0.409 -0.839
NOAA 0.549 0.227 0.005
NSF 8.069 0.597 0.301
USDA/ARS 1.301 0.280 0.043
USGS 1.148 0.288 0.000
VA 0.779 0.052 0.057
Total 97.639 11.917 3.583
The U.S. cannot afford
less than a “full court
press” against deadly and
debilitating health threats.