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Federally Funded R&D Centers Spent $26.5 Billion on R&D in FY 2022

NSF 23-348

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September 6, 2023

The nation’s 42 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) spent $26.5 billion on research and development (R&D) in FY 2022, an annual increase of 6.4% in current dollars (table 1). The federal government funded $26.0 billion of the R&D total, which represented a 5.9% increase in federal R&D support to FFRDCs. FY 2022 was the ninth consecutive year of nominal growth after 2 years of performance declines in FYs 2011–13. In constant dollars, total FFRDC R&D expenditures rose an average of 1.3% annually from FY 2012 to FY 2022 although the annual rate slowed to 0.4% from FY 2020 to FY 2022 (figure 1). These and the other statistics in this report come from the FY 2022 FFRDC Research and Development Survey, conducted by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation.

R&D expenditures at federally funded research and development centers, by source of funds: FYs 2012–22

(Thousands of current dollars)
Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, FFRDC Research and Development Survey.

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Total R&D expenditures at federally funded research and development centers: FYs 2012–22

(Millions of dollars)
Fiscal year Constant 2012 dollars Current dollars
2012 18,281 18,281
2013 17,363 17,667
2014 17,095 17,719
2015 17,631 18,458
2016 18,177 19,220
2017 18,597 20,038
2018 19,188 21,172
2019 20,244 22,738
2020 20,666 23,514
2021 20,960 24,921
2022 20,849 26,524
Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, FFRDC Research and Development Survey.

R&D by Funding Source

Federal funding sources accounted for 97.9% ($26.0 billion) of FFRDC R&D expenditures in FY 2022 (table 1). This level of support is typical for FFRDCs, which are privately operated R&D organizations that are exclusively or substantially financed by the federal government. Nonfederal sources funded the remaining R&D, totaling $562.0 million, including businesses ($367.7 million); nonprofit organizations ($49.1 million); state and local governments ($38.6 million); and all other sources ($106.6 million), such as funds from foreign governments and foreign or U.S. universities. The most notable change in the nonfederal funding sectors since FY 2021 was the 87.7% increase in R&D expenditures funded by businesses, which was attributable primarily to the $157.9 million increase at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Federal Agency Sources of R&D Funding

Four agencies accounted for 91.8% of federally funded R&D expenditures at FFRDCs: the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (figure 2). DOE accounted for 55.8% ($14.5 billion) of federally funded R&D spending. DOD ($5.4 billion, or 20.8%); NASA ($2.7 billion, or 10.3%); and HHS ($1.3 billion, or 4.9%), which includes the National Institutes of Health, were the only other agencies funding expenditures greater than $1 billion in FY 2022.

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Federally financed R&D expenditures at federally funded research and development centers, by federal agency: FYs 2018–2022

(Millions of current dollars)
Federal agency 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
DOD 4,475 5,039 5,137 5,460 5,408
DOE 10,398 11,418 12,148 12,984 14,479
HHS 989 1,041 1,059 1,301 1,279
DHS 542 511 510 539 610
DOT 175 201 209 250 210
NASA 2,939 2,890 2,847 2,630 2,662
NSF 248 288 320 316 345
Other 1,004 950 905 1,030 968

DHS = Department of Homeland Security; DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; DOT = Department of Transportation; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, FFRDC Research and Development Survey.

DOD funded R&D at more FFRDCs (31) than any other federal agency, followed by DOE (24) and NASA (23) (table 2). DOD-funded R&D surpassed $1 billion at three FFRDCs in FY 2022. DOE-funded R&D surpassed $1 billion at four FFRDCs, while five other FFRDCs surpassed $500 million in R&D funded by DOE. Three FFRDCs accounted for at least 70% of their sponsoring agency’s total funding to FFRDCs in FY 2022:

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory accounted for 91% ($2.4 billion) of NASA-funded expenditures at FFRDCs,
  • Center for Advanced Aviation System Development accounted for 79% ($165 million) of the Department of Transportation’s funding of FFRDC expenditures,
  • Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research accounted for 71% ($904 million) of HHS-funded FFRDC expenditures.

Federally financed R&D expenditures at federally funded research and development centers, by federal agency and FFRDC: FY 2022

(Thousands of current dollars)

DHS = Department of Homeland Security; DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; DOT = Department of Transportation; FFRDC = federally funded research and development center; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation.

Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, FFRDC Research and Development Survey, FY 2021.

Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability

The statistics on FFRDC R&D expenditures presented in this report come from the FY 2022 FFRDC Research and Development Survey. This annual survey is completed by FFRDC administrators and collects data from FFRDCs on R&D expenditures by source of funds (federal government, state and local governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, or other); federal agency source; type of R&D (basic research, applied research, or experimental development); type of cost (salaries, software, equipment, subcontracts, other direct costs, and indirect costs); R&D personnel headcounts and full-time equivalents; and total operating budget. This survey has been a census of the full population of FFRDCs since FY 2001. For a list of criteria used to define the set of FFRDCs, see the general guidelines of the Master Government List of FFRDCs at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/#guide&gennotes.

The full set of data tables from this survey and more information on the survey methodology are available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/surveys/ffrdc-research-development/2022.

Notes

1See table 1 in the full set of data tables for annual totals from FY 2001 to FY 2022.

2See detailed R&D reporting for each FFRDC in the microdata files at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/pub_data.cfm for publicly reported data for FFRDCs from FY 1979 to FY 2022.

3See table 6 in the full set of data tables for FFRDC sponsoring agencies and locations. The Master Government List of FFRDCs also provides details on sponsoring agencies, administrator types, locations, general and historical notes.

Suggested Citation

Gibbons MT; National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). 2023. Federally Funded R&D Centers Spent $26.5 Billion on R&D in FY 2022. NSF 23-348. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf23348/.

Contact Us

Report Author

Michael T. Gibbons
Survey Manager
NCSES
Tel: (703) 292-4590
E-mail: mgibbons@nsf.gov

NCSES

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite W14200
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703) 292-8780
FIRS: (800) 877-8339
TDD: (800) 281-8749
E-mail: ncsesweb@nsf.gov

NSF 23-348

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September 6, 2023