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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
FFRDC Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2010


Appendix A. Technical Notes


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

Scope of the Survey

The FY 2010 FFRDC R&D Survey was sent to each of the nation's 39 FFRDCs. Of the 39 FFRDCs, 14 are administered by academic institutions, 19 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 2010 NSF revised the survey to include three new questions requesting expenditures funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, expenditures by type of cost, and total operating budget.

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FY 2010 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 Government 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

Prior to the administration of the FY 2010 survey, the survey instrument was revised and updated in conjunction with an effort to redesign the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey. In addition to changes in the format and general appearance of the survey, new questions were added and old questions were revised.

Question 1 is a request for total current expenditures for separately budgeted R&D expenditures by source of funds. This question is similar to Item 1 of the FY 2009 survey, but a category for nonprofit organizations was added and the category for institution funds was removed.

Question 2 is a request for expenditures funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This question is new to the FY 2010 questionnaire.

Question 3 is a request for federally financed and nonfederally financed expenditures that are considered basic research, applied research, and/or development. This question is a revised version of Item 2 from the FY 2009 survey.

Question 4 is a request for total current expenditures by type of cost. Cost categories include salaries, software, equipment, other direct costs, and indirect costs. This question is new to the FY 2010 survey.

Question 5 is a request for the total operating budget of the FFRDC, excluding capital construction cost. This question is new to the FY 2010 questionnaire.

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Data Collection

Most FFRDCs have incorporated the data that are needed to complete questions 1 and 3 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, the information needed to complete the questions new to the survey can be found in the FFRDC's year-end accounting records.

The FY 2010 survey questionnaires were sent by e-mail in January 2011. Respondents could choose to submit an Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) 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 Survey Web-based data collection system, allowing respondents to view and correct their data online. The Web-based collection was also redesigned for the FY 2010 collection and closely resembled the PDF questionnaire.

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 39 FFRDCs on the current NSF Master Government List of FFRDCs by May of 2011.

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Data Availability

Data for FY 2008 through FY 2010 of the FFRDC R&D Survey are available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/. Data from FY 2008 and prior years of the FFRDC R&D Survey are included in the Academic R&D Expenditures series of detailed statistical tables, available by fiscal year at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/rdexpenditures/. Information from the survey is also included in the series Science and Engineering Indicators and National Patterns of R&D Resources, both available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/.

For more information about FFRDCs see NSF's Federally Funded R&D Centers Master Government List. Data on federal obligations to FFRDCs are available in NSF's Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development. NSF's Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering collects information about postdoctorates working in FFRDCs.

FFRDC Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2010
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 12-319 | June 2012