Much of the economic growth in the U.S. over the past 50 years was generated by technological innovation and scientific discovery. For example, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), about two-thirds of the 80% gain in economic productivity in the U.S. since 1995 is attributed to information technology, the development and implementation of which was made possible by both public and private investment in research and development.

The OSTP report notes that U.S. investment in R&D plays a major role in the current state of the world's science and technology. Funding for Federal Science an dTechnology (FS&T) activities-creation of new technologies is $57 billion. Funding of $57 billion is requested for Federal Science and Technology (FS&T) activities, which are central to the creation of new knowledge and technologies.

Highlights of some agency-specific R&D priorities include:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration: the 2003 budget provides $8.8 billion for NASA FS&T programs. Key areas include establishing a long-term strategy for planetary exploration, emphasizing near-term results in climate-change research, prioritizing research on the International Space Station, lowering the cost of access to space and improving the safety and efficiency of the country's civil aviation system.
  • National Science Foundation: the 2003 budget provides $5 billion for research at NSF, whose broad mission is to promote science and engineering research and education. Key areas include long-term computer science research and applications, nanotechnology, and climate change risk management. The budget also aims to further attract the most promising U.S. students into graduate-level science and engineering by increasing graduate stipends.
  • Department of Energy: The 2003 budget provides $5 billion for FS&T at DOE, including DOE Science programs, the Nation's leading sponsor of research in the physical sciences. DOE plays a special role in supporting research in particle physics, nuclear physics, fusion energy sciences, chemistry of the radioactive elements, nanoscience, genomic sequencing, and computational science. DOE's basic science programs support its missions in energy, national nuclear security and environmental quality.
  • Department of Defense: DOD funds a wide rage of R&D to ensure that U.S. military forces have the tool necessary to protect the National security. The 2003 budget provides $5 billion for FS&T. Keys areas include the development of systems and technologies to combat terrorism as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. Areas of emphasis include computing and communications, sensors, nanotechnology, understanding the military environment, propulsion systems, and the technologies for the next generation of long-range strike aircraft.

New industries and expansion of current industries that spring from the technology developments in these and many other areas of federal R&D will continue to fuel the nation's economic growth.