Heading Towards Last Place: New Report Documents Decline in U.S. Research Funding

October 30, 2019

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Title: U.S. Funding for University Research Continues to Slide

Authors: Robert D. Atkinson and Caleb Foote

Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

A new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation provides an overview of the ongoing decline of federal and state funding for university research.

Citing data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), from 2013 to 2017, the United States fell from 24th to 28th place among OECD nations in university research funding provided by both federal and state governments. Up until the 2013 federal budget sequester, the downward trend in government-provided research funding for universities was largely driven by state government divestment. The authors note that, as a share of the GDP in 2017, support from state governments for funding was three percentage points lower than it was in 1991. Funding cuts due to the budget sequester further exacerbated the trend as $8.7 billion was immediately cut from federal research budgets in 2013, with an additional $54 billion cut over the five years following the sequester.

Finally, the authors argue that, as other nations continue to increase their funding and support for university research, the U.S. government must make an intentional and concerted effort to identify and support underfunded areas, such as university research, if the country is to regain its position as a leader of innovation. They suggest that Congress significantly increase funding for university research by $45 billion annually through agencies such as the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

The full report is available on the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation website here.

—Charles Sanchez

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