Defense Department spending on research and development has suffered historic declines during the budget drawdown that’s been in progress since 2009, falling much more sharply than the rest of DoD contracts, and reversing the usual pattern in which the military has tended to guard its R&D funding so it has systems ready-to-procure the next time it goes to war.
The insights came via one of the deep dives the Center for Strategic and International Studies regularly conducts into federal procurement data. The center found dollars spent on R&D contracts fell by 53 percent between 2009 and 2015 even while overall contract spending declined by only 35 percent.
Put in terms of its share of a shrinking pie, R&D makes up just 8 percent of Defense contracts now, compared to 11 percent five years ago.
Researchers said the spending cuts had created a significant “trough” in funding for future weapons systems, something top Pentagon officials had warned about in 2013, when the sharpest R&D declines started to take place because of the Budget Control Act.