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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

    Introduction

  • 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.

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