050 National Defense:Cut Funding for Non-Combat Related Research

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and include a total of program and grant costs based on FY 2015 figures from “Department of Defense Budget Fiscal Year 2015: RDT&E Programs (R-1),” March 2014, and open DOD grant opportunities found at Federal Grants. Total savings figures for 2016–2025 have been increased at the same rate as discretionary spending growth, according to the CBO’s most recent August 2014 baseline.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

The Defense Department should cut funding to research to programs that are not related to increasing military capabilities. This proposal saves $135 million in 2016, and $1.4 billon over 10 years.


If @deptofdefense cuts non-combat related research, it could save over $135M a year.

The Defense Department has the largest research and development budget of the federal government, equaling just under $70 billion a year. While the vast majority of this amount goes toward developing advanced military systems or technologies that have battlefield applications, each year, the DOD spends money on various projects that have no reason to be funded from the defense budget. In many cases, these projects are already being funded by other federal departments. For example, the DOD currently has $45 million worth of grants available to support breast cancer research. ((Grants.gov, (accessed November 12, 2014)) Other examples include grants to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and prostate cancer research.

In addition, the DOD spends significant amounts of money on green-energy initiatives. While finding alternative fuels could be extremely beneficial to the troops and reduce DOD energy costs, these projects should be limited to those focused on providing cost-efficiencies, or improving warfighting capabilities. However, some of the DOD’s programs are more focused on promoting green energy than military capabilities. One example is the current mandate that requires 25 percent of electricity used by the DOD to come from renewable sources by 2025. Congress should repeal this mandate.

If @deptofdefense cuts non-combat related research, it could save over $135M a year.

Contributing Expert

Diem Nguyen Salmon is the Senior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting in the Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Intimately familiar with both U.S. defense platforms and government contracting practices, she brings special expertise to questions of defense hardware investment.

See publications by Diem Nguyen Salmon

Diem Nguyen SalmonSenior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting

Heritage Experts

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, is The Heritage Foundation's Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.

See publications by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

Steven Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Steven Bucci

Steven BucciDirector, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Additional Reading