Federal Support Survey

Technical Notes

Scope of Survey


Data presented in this report are collected annually through the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Survey of Federal Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions. The survey originated in 1965, when the Committee on Academic Science and Engineering (CASE) within the Federal Council for Science and Technology established the CASE data collection system in order to report annually to the council on Federal obligations to academic institutions and associated federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). Since 1968, CASE data, as well as data on nonprofit institutions, have also served as the basis for an annual report to the President and Congress.

This survey is designed to collect information from Federal agencies on (1) total program support in thousands of dollars (encompassing both science and engineering (S&E) and non-S&E) to academic institutions, (2) total S&E support to FFRDCs administered by academic institutions, and (3) research and development (R&D) and R&D plant support to nonprofit institutions and associated FFRDCs. Data on FFRDCs have not been published in this report but are available upon request.

The fiscal year 1992 data in this report were submitted by 15 Federal agencies, covering the period October 1, 1991, through September 30, 1992. Data reported by the Agency for International Development, the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Transportation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were combined, because of space constraints, to constitute the "other" category in tables that show funding by agency. In 1992 these five agencies accounted for less than 1 percent of all Federal academic support. In several tables (including B-8, B-11, B-13 through B-20, B-22, and B-23) that list R&D obligations by agency and by individual academic institution, Department of Defense obligations are listed in two columns (one for research and the other for development). To accommodate the extra column, the "other" category in those tables includes data from the Department of the Interior in addition to the above five agencies. In 1992 the 15 agencies reported obligations to 2,567 universities and colleges, 37 academic system offices, and 1,251 independent nonprofit institutions.

In fiscal year 1992 the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab accounted for $390 million of Johns Hopkins' $392 million in total funding from the Department of Defense (DoD). During the fiscal year 1987 survey cycle, DoD determined that some funds reported in prior years as R&D obligations to the university were more appropriately classified as "other sciences and engineering." These funds were obligated to the Applied Physics Lab by the Department of the Navy, primarily for defense systems evaluations and improvements. Data for fiscal years 1986, 1985, and 1984 have been revised, but DoD was unable to revise data prior to fiscal year 1984. In addition, the fiscal year 1984 R&D total for the Applied Physics Lab was revised downward.

As a result of trend editing of the Department of Education's data each year, a small number of academic institutions' dollar totals are distributed by type of activity (R&D, non-S&E, etc.) on a prorated basis by NSF because the Department of Education can only evaluate the data on a "total obligations" basis. During the fiscal year 1987 survey cycle, the Department of Education determined that institution coding problems in earlier years caused its database to produce several large funding trend shifts at specific universities. Most of the large funding changes for academic institutions were from student financial assistance programs (accounted for as non-S&E activities in this survey).

This report has been organized to focus on Federal S&E obligations to individual institutions in the B-series tables. Data on non-S&E activities and total Federal obligations are presented in the C-series tables.

Data are shown for Federal obligations to institutions classified as historically black universities and colleges by type of activity, by agency, and by R&D obligations.

"R&D plant" in this report refers to large facilities and fixed equipment. Data on "research instrumentation" are not separately identifiable in this report. Research instrumentation funds are for equipment purchased under research project awards from current-fund accounts and are included under totals for research and development.

Some agencies not surveyed, such as the Department of Justice, may account for a significant proportion of the total receipts at some institutions, even though those receipts may constitute a small proportion of total academic R&D.

Obligations figures listed for individual institutions reflect direct Federal support so that amounts subcontracted to other institutions are included. Those funds received through subcontract arrangements from prime contractors are excluded.

Federal obligations to institutions are presented on the basis of the individual institutions that are components of the system, but obligations awarded directly to the central administration of a system are listed separately. If the final destination of the funds is not known, however, the agencies report them as obligations to a system's administrative office, or "central system," from which the funds are distributed to the system's individual institutions.


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