Course Details

Understanding the Federal R&D Budget

This course contains a basic overview and understanding of the steps in the federal budget process, what influences it, how it comes together in the Executive Branch and Congress and how budget politics and science funding interact. Understanding the Federal R&D Budget includes topics such as: the Office of Management and Budget, trends in and characteristics of R&D spending, major funding priorities, discretionary versus mandatory spending, a recent history and future outlook for discretionary spending, agencies in the executive branch budget process, congressional appropriations and budget resolutions. This course will help you:

  1. Learn the steps in the federal budget process
  2. Understand how the budget comes together in the executive and legislative branches.
  3. Recognize how budget politics and science funding interact.

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Course Author

image of Matthew Hourihan, R&D Budget and Policy Program Director, AAAS

Instructor: Matthew Hourihan, R&D Budget and Policy Program Director, AAAS

Mr. Hourihan is a regular source of information and analysis on past, present, and future science budgets for policymakers and the scientific community, having served in this position since 2011. Prior to joining AAAS, he served as a clean energy policy analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Previously, he served as Jan Schori Fellow at the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. As a student, he interned with the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress, which is now the Office of Government Relations. He earned a Master’s degree in public policy with a focus on science and technology policy at George Mason University and a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College. Prior to graduate school, he worked for five years as a cause communications professional and an award-winning journalist.

Course Overview

Duration: 1 hour


  • Federal budget process
  • Discretionary versus mandatory spending
  • The executive branch budget process
  • Congressional appropriations
  • Budget resolution


Quizzes: 1 quiz


  • Certificate of completion
  • Earn 1 PDH

This course is also available in the Career Pathways Program




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