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Clear the runway. Pentagon-funded research is taking off.

Pentagon Science Gains

A ballooning defense budget is lifting research spending, too. President George W. Bush today will sign a $355 billion military spending bill that includes $7.1 billion for basic and applied research in the 2003 fiscal year, which began 1 October.

Many academic scientists keep a close eye on the Department of Defense's (DOD's) budget because it is a major backer of university-based research. Over the last decade, the Pentagon has provided more than one-third of the funding for basic studies in engineering and computer science in the United States. It also provides significant cash for math, oceanography, and materials research. In recent years, however, funding for these fields ebbed as the Pentagon's budget growth has stalled.

The war on terrorism, however, is reversing that tide. Overall, the Pentagon will steer more than $1 billion to academic researchers this year. Some of the funding will come from the DOD's basic research account, which gets a 6.8% boost to $1.5 billion. Applied studies receive an 11% increase to $4.6 billion. Both totals exceed the Bush Administration's request.

The Coalition for National Security Research, a group of more than 60 universities and science societies that pushes for defense research spending, pronounced itself "pleased" by the outcome, which keeps research spending at about 3% of the Pentagon's overall budget. That's a goal backed by numerous government advisers and think tanks over the last few years.

Related sites
American Association for the Advancement of Science analysis of defense R&D
DOD Appropriations House-Senate Conference Report