The Obama administration has laid out ambitious spending plans for scientific R&D and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its fiscal year 2010 budget. Budget details released in May include a doubling in R&D spending over the next decade at three agencies: the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science within the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce (Fig. 1). The budget also set a goal of spending 3% of the gross domestic product for scientific R&D. Both Jim Greenwood, head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Billy Tauzin, head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, praised this federal spending goal as key for promoting innovation and economic growth in the pharmaceutical and broader biotech sectors. The administration also proposes a budget of $3.2 billion for the FDA in 2010, an increase of 19% over 2009, with some of that revenue to come from higher user fees. Despite the proposed increase of nearly 20% for FDA, that figure is “not nearly enough because it comes off a small number,” says Peter Pitts of the New York–based Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. “Ultimately, FDA needs its budget to double to do its job properly.”

Figure 1: President Barack Obama plans to double federal investment in basic research.
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ARRA, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; NIST lab, National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories; DOE Science, the Department of Energy's Office of Science; NSF, National Science Foundation.