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News Release 15-042

Federally funded R&D center spending declined, latest figures say

Spending has fallen since one-time federal infusion of funds in fiscal year 2009

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R&D center funding has declined since 2010, when a stimulus bill provided an extra $1 billion.

April 21, 2015

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The majority of the nation's Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) reported spending less on research and development (R&D) in fiscal year (FY) 2013 than they had the previous year, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

The report details that the 40 FFRDCs spent $16.9 billion on R&D in FY 2013. Of those, 24 reported declines from FY 2012, and 17 reported two straight years of decreased spending.

Federal funding for the centers has been declining since a high of $18 billion in total spending was reported in FY 2010. That peak corresponded with the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which accounted for more than $1 billion of federal R&D expenditures to FFRDCs in FY 2010. In contrast, ARRA-funded expenditures to all FFRDCs combined amounted to $170 million in FY 2013, or 1 percent of federal R&D expenditures.

Basic research accounted for 24.8 percent of total FFRDC research and development expenditures in fiscal year 2013, a significant drop from the reported 35.2-percent share for the previous year. A major contributor to that decrease was a re-evaluation of the reported distribution of activities by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Five of the 40 laboratories--Los Alamos, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore and the NASA-sponsored Jet Propulsion Laboratory--account for half of the total reported R&D spending.

FFRDCs are privately operated organizations that the government funds exclusively or substantially. Since 2001, federal funding accounted for over 96 percent of their total R&D spending.

See more from this report: Majority of Federally Funded R&D Centers Report Declines in R&D Spending in FY 2013.

For more information and statistical products, please visit NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-8070, 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) 2019, its budget is $8.1 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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