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News Release 17-028

Federally funded R&D center funding rebounded in FY 2015

Increase came after four years of declines

A researcher performs calibrations on the Sandia Lightning Simulator.

A researcher performs calibrations on the Sandia Lightning Simulator.

April 4, 2017

The nation's 42 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) reported spending $18.5 billion on research and development (R&D) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, their first rebound after several years of declining or flat expenditures, according to a new report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

The FFRDCs are privately operated R&D organizations that are exclusively or substantially financed by the federal government. Federal agencies funded over 98 percent of R&D expenditures by FFRDCs in FY 2015, while other funding sources provided a very small share of the total.

Accounting for inflation, expenditures rose 3.1 percent from FY 2014 to FY 2015. The increase came after four straight years of constant dollar declines in expenditures and two years of flat or decreased expenditures in current dollars.

In FY 2015, 22 percent of FFRDC R&D expenditures went toward basic research, 39 percent went toward applied research and 38 percent went toward development, NCSES found.

Continuing a longstanding trend, six FFRDCs accounted for more than half of total R&D expenditures: the NASA-sponsored Jet Propulsion Laboratory and five Department of Energy-sponsored national laboratories -- Sandia, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest.

For more information, including detailed breakdowns of funding by source from FY 2010 to FY 2015, read the full report.


Media Contacts
Stanley Dambroski, NSF, (703) 292-7728, 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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