This is one of the best of all government programs (or it can be viewed as a collection of programs). Here is a good survey of the issue, by Brad Plumer, excerpt:
There’s a long, long list of world-changing innovations that can be traced back to federally funded R&D over the years. The Department of Energy’s research labs spawned digital recording technology, communications satellites, and water-purification techniques. Pentagon research laid the groundwork for the Internet and GPS. The current shale-gas fracking boom couldn’t have happened without microseismic imaging techniques that were developed at Sandia National Laboratories.
It also can be said that this is probably the worst side of the sequester.