University Spending on Research Dropped Slightly in 2012

University spending on research and development in all fields totaled $65.8-billion in the 2012 fiscal year, according to survey results published last week by the National Science Foundation. The figure reflects a 1-percent decline from the previous year, after adjusting for inflation.

That drop represents the first constant-dollar decline since the 1974 fiscal year, the report says, and ends a trend of modest growth seen from 2009 through 2011, when research and development expenditures increased an average of 5 percent each year.

Federally supported research-and-development spending was down by 1.6 percent over all, from $40.8-billion to $40.1-billion. Expenditures supported by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration fell by 4.7 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, the report says, and accounted for all of the drop in the federal total. The HHS total for 2012 was $21.9-billion, more than half of all R&D expenditures supported by the federal government.

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