Opportunities Exist to Improve the Management and Oversight of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers
In 2006, the federal government spent $13 billion -- 14 percent of its research and development (R&D) expenditures -- to enable 38 federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs) to meet special research needs. FFRDCs -- including laboratories, studies and analyses centers, and systems engineering centers -- conduct research in military space programs, nanotechnology, microelectronics, nuclear warfare, and biodefense countermeasures, among other areas. GAO was asked to identify (1) how federal agencies contract with organizations operating FFRDCs and (2) agency oversight processes used to ensure that FFRDCs are well-managed. GAO's work is based on a review of documents and interviews with officials from eight FFRDCs sponsored by the departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Homeland Security (DHS). To improve the effectiveness of FFRDCs, GAO recommends that (1) DHS and HHS revise their personal conflict-of-interest policies to specifically address FFRDC contractor employees in a position to influence research findings or agency decision making and (2) agencies create an ongoing forum to share best practices for FFRDC oversight. DHS, DOD, and DOE concurred with GAO's recommendations, while HHS concurred with the need to revise its policies and is considering a best practices forum for FFRDCs.
[Washington, D.C.] : U.S. Govt. Accountability Office, 
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ii, 47 p. : digital, PDF file