Throughout the 1970s, federal funding for research and development was basically split 50/50 between civilian and military. Today, defense R&D outstrips civilian funding by more than 2 to 1. Federal support for civilian R&D has decreased by 17 percent in constant dollars since 1981, while defense R&D has increased by 93 percent.
Although defense research is certainly necessary and has produced important advances, cutbacks in civilian research could further erode the state of U.S. science and technology. The overall shift in priorities is especially a concern as more of our military research is on specific weapons systems, which have limited commercial spin-offs, and as the president is requesting $26 billion over five years for his Strategic Defense Initiative. Some estimate that by 1990, 90 percent of our federal R&D budget could be going to the military.
. . . We must recognize that our national security depends not only on military advances but also on economic advances. Japan, for example, has adopted the position that world influence derives mainly from economic strength. With only minimum military programs to absorb investment capital and scientific talent, Japan is moving toward a position of global economic supremacy.
. . . In civilian research -- the key to economic growth, job creation and productivity gains -- we are spending less of our gross national product than our major economic competitors. Already we are losing our research lead in key areas, including high-speed electronics and high-energy physics. If we expect to retain our traditional preeminence in scientific research, we must maintain a proper balance between our federal civilian and military research efforts.