In the course of developing data on the FY 1996 Budget, CFS undertook an analysis of the level of funding for fundamental science, agencies' priorities for the immediate future, and how they describe their mission for fundamental science. This agency by agency evaluation is found in Appendix 3, along with a summary of the federal portfolio in fundamental science.
The material in Appendix 3 is subject to much variability in the assumptions under which it was collected. In general, the numbers reported as fundamental science were developed by incorporating estimates of basic research, some portion of applied research, and some portion of development of tools and facilities for carrying out research activities. Each agency's assumptions are described in Appendix 3.
In sum, the federal portfolio in fundamental science is on the order of $20 billion, approximately 27 percent of the total federal research and development effort. This is large relative to the portfolios being coordinated by other NSTC committees, and, because of the links to those portfolios, presents a complex web of interactions that must be addressed in developing an interagency approach to fundamental science. Basic research accounts for about $13.6 billion of the total. Because data on basic research has been collected over a long period of time, it is sometimes useful to focus on this large subset of fundamental science.
This analysis is the first of its kind. It provides a baseline from which CFS can move forward in its planning. However, much of the information about the scientific coverage is sketchy, and it is hard to draw valid conclusions about gaps or unaddressed opportunities. Importantly, while the activities in a given agency's portfolio may fall naturally into the few broad categories used in the analysis, the descriptions within those categories show significant differences in approach and emphasis among the agencies.