The U.S. Department of Defense proposes to spend $2 billion on basic research in 2011, an increase of $200 million or 10% over its current spending level. The request is consistent with a plan Pentagon officials drew up in 2007 to substantially increase basic research funded by the agency over a 5-year period. That plan had the backing of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the only Bush cabinet member to have been retained by the Obama Administration.
The Pentagon's boost to basic research in the 2011 budget comes from the cutting of some "low priority weapons development programs," says John Holdren, the presidential science adviser. Matt Owens of the Association of American Universities says the increase is a "welcome sign" that the new Administration plans to keep basic research spending on "a growth path."
The 2011 budget request for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the home for applied science—is $3 billion, $100 million less than the appropriated amount for 2010.