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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
FFRDC Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2011


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 2011 FFRDC R&D Survey was sent to each of the nation’s 40 FFRDCs. Of the 40 FFRDCs, 14 are administered by academic institutions, 20 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 2011 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

Question 1 is a request for total current expenditures for separately budgeted R&D expenditures by source of funds.

Question 2 is a request for expenditures funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Question 3 is a request for federally financed and nonfederally financed expenditures that are considered basic research, applied research, and/or development.

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.

Question 5 is a request for the total operating budget of the FFRDC, excluding capital construction costs.

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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 added to the survey in FY 2010 (questions 2, 4, and 5) can be found in the FFRDC's year-end accounting records.

The FY 2011 survey questionnaires were sent by e-mail in December 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.

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 and Imputation

All of the 40 FFRDCs on the NSF Master Government List of FFRDCs at the start of the FY 2011 survey cycle returned forms by April of 2012. The Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) was unable to report expenditures by character of work (question 3). All CNA expenditures, $85,165, were allocated as applied research based on a review of CNA's publicly available research portfolio. This total represents 1.6% of all FFRDC applied research expenditures.

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Data Anomalies

NSF discovered during the FY 2011 survey cycle that seven FFRDCs were including capital project expenditures in their R&D totals reported on the survey. Corrections were made for the FY 2011 survey cycle that lowered the total expenditures by $468 million. However, previous years include an unknown amount of capital expenditures in the total. The amount is estimated to be less than $500 million per year.

Prior to the FY 2011 survey FFRDCs administered by the MITRE Corporation had only been reporting internally funded R&D expenditures. After discussions with NSF these five FFRDCs agreed to report all FY 2011 operating expenditures for R&D and to revise FY 2008–10 data (see table 7 for specific institutions and revised totals). The revisions contributed $1,160 million to the total R&D expenditures for FY 2008, $1,192 million to the expenditures of FY 2009, and $1,241 million to FY 2010.

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Data Availability

Data for FY 2008 through FY 2011 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 2011
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 13-315 | March 2013