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GAO: Federal R&D Obligations Rose by 30% Between FY 2012 and FY 2021

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The Government Accountability Office analyzed the National Science Foundation’s data on federal agencies’ annual research and development spending and found that federal R&D obligations increased by about 30 percent from $138.5 billion in fiscal year 2012 to approximately $179.5 billion in FY 2021.

The departments of Defense and Health and Human Services accounted for 77 percent of the total R&D funding in FY 2021, GAO said in a report published Thursday.

According to the report, the COVID-19 stimulus funding has made HHS a major funder of development efforts with development initiatives accounting for nearly 40 percent of the department’s R&D spending in FY 2021.

In FY 2021, industry and academic institutions received almost $90 billion in external R&D obligations.

The GAO report also provided details on program areas, participating agencies and funding levels of four multiagency initiatives that were organized to coordinate R&D investments in the areas of nanotechnology, networking and information technology, quantum information science and global change research.

Funding for these initiatives increased over the previous decade, and accounted for roughly $14 billion in fiscal year 2020, just under 9 percent of the total federal R&D budget,” the report reads.