New NDIA ETI paper shows significant growth in Defense Department science and technology investments

Investing in the Future

A related podcast is also out today.

ARLINGTON, VA – Amidst discussion on the defense budget toplines, the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute (ETI) has released a new paper that analyzes trends in the Defense Department’s future-focused science and technology funding. 

In a new white paper, “Investing in the Future: Trends in the Defense Department’s Science & Technology Funding,” NDIA’s ETI says that requests for S&T funding by DoD have been consistent in inflation-adjusted terms, but have begun to grow considerably since FY2022 in response to the rising use of emerging technologies by great power competitors. Congress has also consistently appropriated more than what DoD has requested. 

“Over the years, Pentagon leadership and national strategies have highlighted the importance that science, technology, and innovation play in our national security enterprise. This study has found that that rhetoric has rarely translated into real funding increases for critical research effort,” Dr. Arun Seraphin says. “However, the report does show that the Department now seems to be taking concrete steps to grow the S&T enterprise, significantly increasing investments in these science and technology activities that lead to the development and delivery of new military capabilities.”


The paper’s findings include:

  1. The DoD’s topline has grown by 70% since FY2001, while spending on S&T has shrunk as a share of the DoD budget over the same period. This is because, for most of the 21st century, the Pentagon’s budget requests for S&T have been consistent, averaging approximately $14.6 billion from FY2003 to FY2015 in inflation-adjusted terms despite significant changes such as the Global War on Terror and the Budget Control Act. Requests for S&T have grown remarkably to nearly $17.5 billion in FY2024 (~+21% since FY2016). 

  2. The 2011 Budget Control Act did not reduce S&T’s share of the topline. In fact, investments in S&T were not the parts of the budget which were cut, indicating that DoD and Congress are committed to a consistent baseline investment level to support defense future capabilities.

  3. At the same time, the paper found that S&T does benefit substantially from Congressional earmarks. This meant that, during the “earmark moratorium” in the early 2010s, the S&T portfolio did not receive much more than what was requested.

  4. The Defense Department has not requested 3% of topline for S&T in the 21st century, an often-cited goal. Congress also has not  appropriated funding at this level in any year since FY2005. 


A related podcast, "How DoD Funds Science and Technology on Emerging Tech Horizons," is out today.


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About ETI

NDIA’s Emerging Technology Institute was founded in 2021 to provide leadership, bolster public awareness, and create independent, reliable research about the technologies critical to our nation's economy and national defense. A champion for emerging technologies in its first two years of operations,  ETI produces numerous studies and monthly webinars including ETI’s Tech 101 series as well as the Emerging Tech Horizons podcast series on critical topics ranging from hypersonics to digital engineering to energetics. Looking ahead, ETI is part of a larger NDIA team working with Undersecretaries Heidi Shyu and William LaPlante on a major Emerging Technologies Conference to be held August 28th to the 30th in Washington, DC.

Topics: Emerging Technologies

About NDIA

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading defense industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues. NDIA and its members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training, and support for warfighters and first responders through its divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations, and events. For more information, visit