NASA Report May Overstate the Economic Benefits of Research and Development Spending

PAD-78-18: Published: Oct 18, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 18, 1977.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contracted with Chase Econometrics Associates, Inc., to evaluate how research and development (R&D) spending affects the U.S. economy.

The Chase report "The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending" concluded that this spending produced many benefits between 1960 and 1974, although it did not try to evaluate how effectively NASA carried out its primary objectives, such as space exploration and satellite communication. Although the study is useful as exploratory research, other types of studies are necessary to provide a complete evaluation of NASA research and development. The most significant conclusion of the Chase study was that ". . . a $1 billion sustained increase in NASA R&D spending will raise real GNP $23 billion by 1984 . . . ." Of this estimated increase, $21 billion would result from improved technology and productivity and the rest would result from increased Government spending which would stimulate spending in different parts of the economy. The Chase study did not prove convincingly that the benefits of R&D spending are as large as stated.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Administrator of NASA should ensure that future evaluation studies look at specific innovations, their effect on specific industries, and the process by which NASA expenditures for research and development improve productivity in the economy. Such studies would give Congress a more accurate picture of what taxpayers are getting for their money. The Congress should subject technical studies submitted in support of agency budgets and as evidence for or against proposed legislation to independent examination and appraisal.


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jul 11, 2018

Jun 14, 2018

May 1, 2018

Apr 9, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Jan 17, 2018

Dec 12, 2017

Dec 6, 2017

Oct 19, 2017

Oct 4, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here