Annual spending on defense science and technology has “grown substantially” over the past four decades from $2.3 billion in FY1978 to $13.4 billion in FY2018 or by nearly 90% in constant dollars, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
Defense science and technology refers to the early stages of military research and development, including basic research (known by its budget code 6.1), applied research (6.2) and advanced technology development (6.3).
“While there is little direct opposition to Defense S&T spending in its own right,” the CRS report says, “there is intense competition for available dollars in the appropriations process,” such that sustained R&D spending is never guaranteed.
Still, “some have questioned the effectiveness of defense investments in R&D.”
CRS takes note of a 2012 article published by the Center for American Progress which argued that military spending was an inefficient way to spur innovation and that the growing sophistication of military technology was poorly suited to meet some low-tech threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan (as discussed in an earlier article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).
The new CRS report presents an overview of the defense science and tech budget, its role in national defense, and questions about its proper size and proportion. See Defense Science and Technology Funding, February 21, 2018,
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, updated February 16, 2018
Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, updated February 16, 2018
Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated February 15, 2018
Potential Options for Electric Power Resiliency in the U.S. Virgin Islands, February 14, 2018
U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective, updated February 21, 2018
Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems, updated February 15, 2018
Where Can Corporations Be Sued for Patent Infringement? Part I, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 20, 2018
How Broad A Shield? A Brief Overview of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 21, 2018
Russians Indicted for Online Election Trolling, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 21, 2018