Federally funded research and development centers
Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) are public-private partnerships which conduct research for the United States Government. They are administered in accordance with U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 48, Part 35, Section 35.017 by universities and corporations. There are currently 42 recognized FFRDCs that are sponsored by the U.S. government. FFRDCs are similar to the University Affiliated Research Centers run by the United States Department of Defense.
During World War II scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and other specialists became part of the United States massive war effort—leading to evolutions in radar, aircraft, computing and, most famously, the development of nuclear weapons through the Manhattan Project. The end of armed conflict did not end the need for organized research and development in support of the government.
As the Cold War became the new reality, government officials and their scientific advisors advanced the idea of a systematic approach to research, development, and acquisitions, one independent of the ups and downs of the marketplace and free of the restrictions on civil service. From this idea arose the concept of FFRDCs—private entities that would work almost exclusively on behalf of the government, be free of organizational conflicts of interest, and maintain a stable workforce composed of highly trained technical talent.
The U.S. Air Force created the first FFRDC, the RAND Corporation, in 1947. Others grew directly out of their wartime roles. For example, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, founded in 1951, originated as the Radiation Laboratory at MIT, and the Navy's Operation Research Group evolved into the Center for Naval Analyses. The first FFRDCs served the Department of Defense. Since then, other government organizations have sponsored FFRDCs to meet their specific needs. In 1969, the number of FFRDCs peaked at 74.
The following list includes all current FFRDCs:
- National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (March 2017). "FMaster Government List of Federally Funded R&D Centers". Statistics. Arlington, Virginia: National Science Foundation. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- Dale, Bruce C. and Timothy D. Moy. The Rise of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, 2000.
- Gallo, Marcy E., Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): Background and Issues for Congress, December 1, 2017, Congressional Research Service.
- Hruby, Jill M., et al., "The Evolution of Federally Funded Research & Development Centers", Public Interest Report, SPRING 2011, Federation of American Scientists.
- Kosar, Kevin R., The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics, June 22, 2011, Congressional Research Service.