The annual Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development (Federal Funds Survey) is the primary source of information about federal funding for R&D in the United States. It is used by policymakers in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government in determining policies, laws, and regulations affecting science; it is also used by those who follow science trends in every sector of the economy, including university administrators and professors, economic and political analysts, R&D managers inside and outside the government, the science press, and leading members of the science community in the United States and around the world. The results of the survey are also used for budget purposes for four federal programs: the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer, and Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
The survey is completed by the 15 federal departments, their 57 subagencies, and the 12 independent agencies listed below:
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of State
Department of Veterans Affairs
The survey provides data on federal obligations by the following key variables:
The survey provides data on federal outlays by the following key variables:
Note that the variables "R&D," "character of work," and "R&D plant" in this survey use definitions comparable to those used by the Office of Management and Budget. The variables "geographic location" and "field of science and engineering" are comparable in the Federal Funds Survey and the related NSF Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions.
The population consists of the federal agencies that conduct R&D programs. In the survey cycle for data collection on FYs 2011–13, a total of 27 federal agencies (15 federal departments and 12 independent agencies) reported R&D data. Because multiple subdivisions of a federal department were in some cases requested to complete the survey, there were 74 individual respondents (5 federal departments, 57 department subdivisions, and 12 independent agencies). The sample frame is obtained from information in the president’s budget submitted to Congress. The Analytical Perspectives volume and the “Detailed Budget Estimates by Agency” section of the appendix to the president’s budget identify agencies that receive research and development funding.
Five of the 15 federal departments were surveyed at the department level, and 10 were surveyed at the subdivision level, with 57 subdivisions surveyed. All 12 independent agencies were surveyed at the agency level.
Synectics for Management Decisions, Inc. (Synectics) performed the data collection for volume 61 (FYs 2011–13) under contract with NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Agencies were initially contacted by phone to verify the name, e-mail address, and phone number of each survey respondent. A Web-based data collection system was used to collect data for the Federal Funds Survey.
Federal funds data, as collected, span 3 government fiscal years: the fiscal year just completed, the current fiscal year, and the next fiscal year. Actual data are collected for the year just completed; estimates are obtained for the current and next fiscal year.
For volume 61, actual data (representing completed transactions) were collected for FY 2011 and estimated data were collected for FYs 2012 and 2013. Estimated data do not represent final actions. Data collection for the Federal Funds Survey began in May 2012 and continued until February 2013. The amounts reported for FY 2012 reflect congressional appropriation actions as of that period, as well as apportionment and reprogramming decisions as of that time. Data for FY 2013 represent as-yet unimplemented administration budget proposals. Authorization, appropriation, deferral, and apportionment actions completed after these data were collected will be reflected in later surveys in this series.
The Web-based data collection system is used to collect and manage data for the Federal Funds Survey. This Web-based system was designed to help improve survey reporting and reduce data collection and processing costs by offering respondents direct online reporting and editing. The goal is to provide a cost-effective way for respondents to complete the survey each year and for the contractor to collect and process the data.
All data collection efforts, data imports, data editing, and trend checking are accomplished using the Web-based data collection system. The Web-based data collection system has a component that allows survey respondents to enter their data online; it also has a component that allows the contractor to monitor support requests, data entry, and data issues. Both components are password-protected, allowing only authorized users to access them.
This survey is a census of the 15 federal departments and 12 independent agencies that sponsor R&D. There is no known item nonresponse, so no weighting or imputation methods are used. A submission is considered complete and final when data have been submitted at the agency level and the agency-level respondent has verified the responses.
Because all eligible agencies are included, there is no sampling error.
Because identifying relevant federal agencies is a straightforward task, coverage is assumed to be complete except for activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. Agencies are identified through such sources as the president's annual report, Budget of the United States Government, and the respondent agencies themselves. In addition, the Federal Yellow Book and the U.S. Government Manual are consulted. Because not all agencies issue funding for research and development, the Analytical Perspectives and the Detailed Budget Estimates by Agency in the president's budget are reviewed to identify the subset of all agencies that are allocated R&D funding. Including these agencies in the Federal Funds Survey as well as independent agencies that have a past practice of issuing R&D funding avoids unnecessary contacts with non-R&D-funding agencies.
(1) Unit nonresponse. The response rate for this survey is 100%.
(2) Item nonresponse. Agencies are encouraged to estimate informally when actual data are unavailable. The survey instrument allows respondents to enter data or skip data fields. NSF assumes a blank field is zero for estimation purposes. If a significant number of blank fields are incorrectly skipped by respondents, bias could result.
Some measurement problems are known to exist in the data. More specifically, some agencies are not able to report the full costs of R&D. For example, the Department of Defense (DOD) does not include headquarters costs of planning and administering R&D programs, which are estimated at a fraction of 1 percent of its total cost; DOD has stated that identification of amounts at this level is impracticable.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Department of Health and Human Services currently has many of its awards in its financial system without any field of science code. Therefore, NIH uses an alternate source to estimate its research dollars by field of science. NIH uses scientific class codes (based upon past history of grant, content of the title, and the name of the awarding institute or center) as an approximation for field of science codes.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) does not include any field of science codes in its financial database, and consequently must estimate what percentage of the agency's research dollars are allocated into the fields of science.
Also, agencies are required to report the ultimate performer of R&D. However, through past workshops, NSF has learned that some agencies do not always track their R&D dollars to the ultimate performer of R&D. This leads to some degree of misclassification of performers of R&D, but NSF has not determined the extent of the errors in performer misclassification by the reporting agencies.
R&D plant data are underreported to some extent because of the difficulty some agencies, particularly DOD and NASA, encounter in identifying and reporting these data. DOD's respondents report obligations for R&D plant funded under the agency's appropriation for construction, but they are able to identify only a small portion of the R&D plant support that is within R&D contracts funded from DOD's appropriation for research, development, testing, and evaluation. Similarly, NASA respondents cannot separately identify the portions of industrial R&D contracts that apply to R&D plant, since these data are subsumed in the R&D data covering industrial performance. NASA R&D plant data for other performing sectors are reported separately
The information included in this survey has been stable since FY 1973, when federal obligations for research to universities and colleges by agency and detailed S&E field were added to the survey. Many of the other variables are available from the early 1950s on. However, analysts studying trends are encouraged to obtain up-to-date data from the NCSES website, because agencies reclassify their responses for prior years as additional budget data become available.
NCSES publishes the data from this survey annually in detailed statistical tables in the series Federal Funds for Research and Development and the Science and Engineering State Profiles series. Historical information is also available from NSF's Integrated Science and Engineering Resource Data System (WebCASPAR). Through WebCASPAR, a user can build various survey data tables including the following:
Data from this survey are available on the NCSES website at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedfunds/ and in the WebCASPAR data system (http://webcaspar.nsf.gov).
For additional information about this survey, contact:
Research and Development Statistics Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230
Phone: (703) 292-7815
 As of the FYs 2011–13 survey, the "Other defense agencies" category is used to display aggregated data for DOD subagencies engaged in classified R&D projects.
 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement was split into Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in FY 2012.