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News Release 14-016

NSF study reveals slight research and development decline at federally funded centers

closeup image if a researcher's hand working with a sample in a petri dish

The nation's 39 federally funded R&D centers spent $17.4 billion on R&D in FY 2012.

January 29, 2014

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

A recent survey from the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that the nation's 39 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) spent $17.4 billion on research and development (R&D) in fiscal year (FY) 2012. These data reveal a slight decline from the $17.8 billion spent in FY 2011.

Between FY 2010 and 2012, one-time, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding boosted R&D expenditures for FFRDCs by $2.2 billion.

FFRDCs are privately operated R&D organizations exclusively or substantially financed by the federal government. FFRDCs provide the sponsoring federal agencies with capabilities to meet special long-term R&D needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing in-house or contractor resources. Funding from federal agencies accounted for 97.5 percent ($17 billion) of the FFRDCs' total expenditures in FY 2012.

FFRDCs also receive funding from and perform work for nonfederal sponsors. These sources accounted for only 2.5 percent ($440 million) of the FFRDCs' total expenditures. In FY 2012, FFRDCs reported $184 million in R&D expenditures funded by businesses, $77 million funded by nonprofit organizations, $39 million funded by state and local governments and an additional $139 million funded by all other nonfederal sources.

The type of work performed across the FFRDCs was evenly distributed between basic research, applied research and development in FY 2012.

For more information on this report, please contact Ronda Britt.

Please visit the NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics for more reports and other products.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344, email:

Program Contacts
Ronda Britt, NSF, (703) 292-7765, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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