NITRD Releases R&D Supplement to the FY 2021 Budget Request

Published: August 19, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisBudgetCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicInformation TechnologyResearch and Development

NITRD’s supplement to the FY 2021 budget request reveals a $6.5B budget for federal R&D investments.

Key Takeaways:

  • The FY 2021 budget request for federal, NITRD-related R&D is $6.5B, a 3% decrease from the FY 2020 enacted budget, including FY 2020 supplemental COVID-19 funding.
  • NITRD’s Supplement to the President’s FY 2021 Budget underscores R&D investments in five Industries of the Future: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Information Science (QIS), Advanced Communications Networks (ACN, including 5G), advanced manufacturing and biotechnology.
  • Past NITRD investments have enabled the supercomputing, big data and wireless networking capabilities used by federal agencies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Last week, the Networking & Information Technology Research & Development (NITRD) program released its annual Supplement to the President’s FY 2021 Budget, revealing planned federal R&D investments. In its role, the NITRD program coordinates federal agency investments to advance IT in order to transform the, “ability to solve previously intractable problems, foster new industries and jobs, and keep the American people safe.”

The FY 2021 federal agency R&D budget request totals $6.5B, a 3% decrease from the FY 2020 enacted R&D budget of nearly $6.7B (including $25.7M from supplemental funding provided by COVID-19-related legislation). Investments within this budget will advance five Industries of the Future (IOTF): Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Information Science (QIS), Advanced Communications Networks (ACN, including 5G), advanced manufacturing and biotechnology.

With a focus on the IOTF, the NITRD budget structure is based on 11 Program Component Areas (PCAs), “major subject areas under which Federal agencies report their funding request for the activities that the NITRD Program coordinates verticals.” For FY 2021, four of the PCAs received updates to clarify their definitions as noted below:  

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) R&D
  • Computing-Enabled Human Interaction, Communications, and Augmentation (CHuman)
  • Computing-Enabled Networked Physical Systems (CNPS)–Updated
  • Cyber Security and Privacy (CSP)–Updated
  • Education and Workforce (EdW)
  • Enabling R&D for High-Capability Computing Systems (EHCS)
  • High-Capability Computing Infrastructure and Applications (HCIA)
  • Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Systems (IRAS)
  • Large Scale Data Management and Analysis (LSDMA)–Updated
  • Large Scale Networking (LSN)
  • Software Productivity, Sustainability, and Quality (SPSQ)-Updated

Breakdown of the FY 2021 NITRD R&D budget by PCA:

Among the PCAs, nondefense AI investments total $1.5B, a 34% increase over FY 2020 enacted investments. Moreover, ACN R&D totals $189M in FY 2021, over a 10% decrease from FY 2020 enacted investments. The NITRD supplement does not provide summarized totals for the other ITOF.

Breakdown of the FY 2021 NITRD R&D budget by agency:

(Figures in parentheses reflect change compared to FY 2020 enacted budgets, including supplemental FY 2020 funding due to COVID-19)

(Other: DHS, DOI, DOT, FDA, NASA, NIJ, NIOSH, NOAA, Treasury/FCEN, and VA)

Key agency increases in FY 2021 include:

  • $191.9M at the NSF for AI R&D and education investments, including additional AI institutes
  • $75.5M at the USDA for FY 2021 contributions to the NSF AI research institutes and grants to study the application of AI predictive decision-making in the food and agricultural sector and to support development of an AI-savvy workforce for agricultural applications
  • $25.5M at NIST to double the agency’s AI budget, as depicted in the President’s budget request, to ensure AI technologies are interoperable, secure and reliable

NITRD’s Impact on COVID-19

Within the supplement, NITRD links past investments that have enabled the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes investments for supercomputing, high-speed and wireless networks, big data analysis and security capabilities to protect systems against adversaries during a time of mass telework, distance learners and critical health research. In particular, NITRD draws a direct correlation from its investments to the work that DOD and DOE is doing, using their supercomputing capabilities to conduct studies of computational chemistry. Moreover, NITRD relates to NIST and NLM implementing a Text Retrieval Challenge to use information retrieval and text processing to build lists of test collection to support virus research, and NSF’s role in making awards toward rapid research proposals related to COVID-19.