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Federal spending for scientific research at U.S. academic institutions equals approximately $15 billion each year. According to the analysis in this report, about three-quarters of this amount supports the direct costs of conducting research. The other one-quarter covers facilities and administrative (F&A) costs. The authors estimate that universities pay between $0.7 and $1.5 billion in F&A costs that would otherwise be eligible for federal reimbursement. This report provides up-to-date quantitative and qualitative data on F&A costs to inform that policy debate.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

  • Acknowledgments

  • Glossary

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Background: How Universities Recover F&A Costs from the Federal Government

  • Chapter Three

    Issue 1: Comparison of F&A Rates Across Sectors

  • Chapter Four

    Issue 2: Distribution of F&A Rates by Spending Category

  • Chapter Five

    Issue 3: The Impact of Changes in Circular A-21

  • Chapter Six

    Issue 4: The Impact of Federal and State Law on F&A Rates

  • Chapter Seven

    Issue 5: Options to Reduce or Control the Rate of Growth of Federal F&A Reimbursement Rates

  • Chapter Eight

    Issue 6: Options for Creating an F&A Database

  • Chapter Nine

    Summary and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Brief History of Circular A-21

  • Appendix B

    Rate Types Allowed in Circular A-21

  • Bibliography

The research described in this report was conducted for the Office of Science and Technology Policy and performed under the auspices of RAND’s Science and Technology unit.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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