In a story yesterday, Information Week reports that the Bush Administration will look in FY 06 to focus on R&D funding and IT policy in response to challenges that the US technological leadership is slipping globally. Here’s a snip:
While many agree that emerging economies such as China, India, and South Korea are mounting a serious challenge to the United States’ long-held role as the leading technology innovator, some question the administration’s focus on the task at hand and its ability to deliver adequate funding given the burgeoning federal deficit.
“The Bush administration’s philosophy is to create an environment for innovation and an environment for participation,” says Phillip Bond, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for technology.
Federal research and development funding, crucial to the administration’s ability to create innovative technologies, has increased 44% since 2001, Bond says. The administration contributes $2 billion annually to networking and IT R&D alone at agencies such as the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and areas within the Defense Department. The Bush administration has also allocated $1 billion for the development of nanotechnology and taken an interest in quantum communication, an emerging encryption system.
The article doesn’t note whether any of the Administration’s focus will result in increased funding for IT R&D — and I don’t have any information on that either — but it’s worth pointing out that the 44% figure quoted by Bond above isn’t reflected in the actual amounts spent (and requested) for federal IT R&D spending from FY 01 – FY 05 (as can be seen on the bottom half of this chart). As others have noted, the bulk of that 44% increase has gone to the Defense Department, which is increasing its support for more short-term, development-oriented research and de-emphasizing long-term, fundamental research. Here’s more on CRA’s concerns about DOD research.
But keep it tuned here for all the details of the President’s FY 06 budget request, due February 7th….
Update: Also forgot that I’d whipped up this little chart that showed how Federal IT R&D funding had fared in the various Administrations. Here’s the post in which it originally appeared, which contains detail on how the chart was assembled.