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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
FFRDC Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2008


Appendix A. Technical Notes


The National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC R&D Expenditures Survey) is the primary source of information on separately budgeted R&D expenditures within FFRDCs in the United States. Conducted annually for all FFRDCs since FY 2001, the survey collects information on R&D expenditures by source of funds.

The survey is administered in conjunction with the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (Academic R&D Expenditures Survey). The resulting FFRDC data have until now been published in the Academic R&D Expenditures series of detailed statistical tables. The FY 2008 FFRDC data are being published both in the Academic R&D Expenditures report and separately in this report, establishing a new detailed statistical tables series solely for FFRDC data. Results of future FFRDC data collections will not be published in the Academic R&D Expenditures report.

Scope of the Survey

The FY 2008 FFRDC R&D Expenditures Survey was sent to each of the nation's 38 FFRDCs. Of the 38 FFRDCs, 14 are administered by academic institutions, 18 are administered by nonprofit organizations, and 6 are administered by industrial organizations.

FFRDCs are engaged in basic research, applied research, development, or management of R&D activities, either upon direct request of the government or under a broad charter from the government, but in either case under the broad monitorship of the government. FFRDCs are operated, managed, and administered as separate organizational units within a parent organization or as separately incorporated organizations. They receive their major financial support (70% or more) from the federal government, usually from one agency, and are expected to have a long-term relationship with their sponsoring agency.

FFRDCs are asked to provide R&D expenditures by source of funding and character of work. In FY 2007 NSF expanded the character-of-work question, which previously had requested total and federally funded basic research expenditures. The question now asks for the amount of total expenditures and federally financed expenditures by three categories: basic research, applied research, and development.

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FY 2008 Survey Frame Design

The FFRDC R&D Expenditures Survey has been an annual census of the full population of eligible FFRDCs since FY 2001. Prior to FY 2001, only FFRDCs administered by academic institutions were included in this survey. FFRDCs are identified through the NSF master list of FFRDCs. NSF is responsible for maintaining the master list and queries all federal agencies annually to determine changes, additions, or deletions to the list.

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Survey Instrument

Item 1 is a request for total current expenditures for separately budgeted S&E R&D expenditures by source of funds.

Item 2 is a request for the amount of total expenditures and federally financed expenditures that are considered basic research, applied research, and/or development.

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Data Collection

Most FFRDCs have incorporated the data that are needed to complete this survey into their record-keeping systems, thereby ensuring a consistent format from one year to the next. Such consistency yields the most useful statistics for time series. As a rule, information to complete this survey is found in the FFRDC's year-end accounting records.

The FY 2008 survey questionnaires were sent by e-mail in November 2008. Respondents could choose to submit an Adobe Portable Document Format questionnaire downloaded from the Web or use a Web-based data collection system to respond to the survey. Every effort was made to maintain close contact with respondents to preserve both the consistency and continuity of the resulting data. Questionnaires were carefully examined for completeness upon receipt. Computerized facsimiles of the survey data were then prepared for each FFRDC; these compared the current and 2 prior years of data and noted any substantive disparities. Respondents were sent personalized e-mail messages asking them to provide any necessary revisions before the final processing and tabulation of data. These e-mail messages included a link to the FFRDC R&D Expenditures Survey Web-based data collection system, allowing respondents to view and correct their data online.

Respondents were asked to explain significant differences between current-year reporting and established patterns of reporting verified for prior years. They were encouraged to correct prior-year data if needed. When respondents updated or amended figures from past years, NSF made corresponding changes to trend data in this report and to the underlying microdata database.

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Response Rate

Forms were received from all of the 38 FFRDCs on the current NSF master list by June of 2009.

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Data Availability

Data from FY 2008 and prior years of the FFRDC R&D Expenditures Survey are included in the detailed statistical tables series Academic Research and Development Expenditures, available by fiscal year at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/rdexpenditures/. Data for FY 2008 and future data collections will be available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/.

Information from the survey is also included in Science and Engineering Indicators and National Patterns of R&D Resources, both available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/.

FFRDC Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2008
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 10-310 | March 2010