Accession Number:



Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: Overview and Issues for Congress

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

Corporate Author:

Congressional Research Service

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA, established in 1958, is an agency within the Department of Defense DOD responsible for catalyzing the development of technologies that maintain and advance the capabilities and technical superiority of the U.S.military. DARPA-funded research has made important science and technology contributions that have led to the development of both military and commercial technologies, such as precision guided missiles, stealth, the internet, and personal electronics. DARPA has a culture of risk-taking and tolerance for failure that has led experts, some Members of Congress, and others to view DARPA as a model for innovation both inside and outside of the federal government. The DARPA model is characterized by a flat organization that empowers its tenure-limited program managers with trust, autonomy, and the ability to take risks on innovative ideas. Congress has aided DARPAs efforts by granting the agency certain flexible acquisition and personnel hiring authorities, which have allowed DARPA to engage with people and entities that may have otherwise been reluctant to interact and do business with DOD. DARPA funding has remained relatively steady over time. In FY2021 constant dollars, DARPA funding has decreased by 2.4, from 3.59 billion in FY1996 2.27 billion in current dollars to 3.50 billion in FY2021. Nearly all of DARPAs funding falls under the budget categories of basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3. Funding under these categories is referred to by DOD as the science and technology S and T budget. DODs S and T budget is often singled out by analysts and others for additional scrutiny, as it is viewed as an investment in the foundational knowledge needed to develop future military systems. DARPAs share of Defense S and T funding has remained relatively steady at between 21 and 25 from FY2000 to FY2021.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods
  • Economics and Cost Analysis

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]