New Report Provides 1st Comprehensive Survey of US R&D Enterprise

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Publication date: 
21 June 2000
Number: 
68

"Given the importance of federal R&D investments to the nation, states, and localities, amazingly little information is available about them that is complete, detailed, and current." - new RAND report on Federal R&D

For the first time, specific and comprehensive information on federal R&D activities across the country has now been compiled in a single document. This report, "Discovery and Innovation: Federal Research and Development Activities in the Fifty States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico," was prepared for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy by RAND and released on June 15. It uses a ground-breaking database, RaDiUS, developed by RAND for tracking and providing such data in an organized, searchable format.

The report says it "was prepared to provide an appreciation of the true scope of the federal R&D enterprise and the challenge of coordinating and managing such an expansive endeavor." It analyses FY 1998 data, the most recent available at the time, and runs many hundreds of pages, but data on each state is broken out into a separate, highly readable chapter. In this manner, according to RAND, "the authors hope to make the material even more useful to Congress, federal and state officials, scientists and engineers, the media, and the public."

"This report, and the database from which it was largely derived...will provide new insights for policymakers at all levels," said presidential science advisor Neal Lane in a written statement. "This new report puts a human face on our vast and vibrant R&D enterprise.... For the first time, there is far greater clarity of how and where Federal research activities connect with the average American. It identifies the individual laboratories, R&D centers, universities, and companies where our scientists and engineers actually create new knowledge and develop innovative new technologies, supported in part by American taxpayers.... I want all of us, as taxpayers, to see how profoundly important these research investments on the scientific frontiers are for us, our children, and our grandchildren."

According to a RAND press release, the federal government spends approximately $80 billion annually on R&D-related activities. The report finds that 15 states receive 80 percent of the research dollars, with California topping the list, receiving an estimated $14,420 million in FY 1998. Second on the list is Maryland, with $8,078 million, followed by Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Massachusetts. South Dakota ranks fifty-second, with federal R&D funding of $39 million. Although the data shows "substantial regional concentration" of funding, it also reveals that "for many smaller states, federal R&D funding on a per- capita basis is higher than in larger states receiving more federal R&D funds." According to the release, the analysis shows "surprisingly little duplication of effort" across the R&D enterprise.

The report finds that while 24 federal agencies are involved in R&D activities, different agencies use different definitions for R&D, S&T, basic versus applied research, and other common terms. It says that "by far, the biggest challenge in creating the RaDiUS database, as well as preparing this report, has been to accurately distinguish the R&D activities from the science and technology (S&T) activities of the federal government." In analyzing the data, a great deal of effort was put into addressing these difficulties to make the report as accurate as possible. In addition, "extraordinary efforts have been made to avoid double counting of any kind and to verify and validate all information presented."

Chapters are arranged alphabetically by state, with each one showing the amount of federal R&D money spent annually on average in that state, the state's ranking, and the percent of all federal funds to the state that go toward R&D. This is followed by information on federal R&D units, federal research grants, and other federal R&D activities involving entities in the state. The report summarizes the data, but notes that "detailed information on every grant, contract, and cooperative agreement referenced in the text and tables...is available in the RaDiUS database."

"The bottom line," according to OSTP, is that "every State in the nation has seen a boost in its economy and improvements in local communities - from jobs to schools - as a result of Federal investments in science and technology. This report shows how and why it happens . . ."

The report is available on the RAND web site at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1194 or on the OSTP web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/html/radius.html

To just view the state rankings for federal R&D dollars received, go tohttp://www.rand.org/hot/Press/MR1194.sumtab.S2.pdf

For information on the RaDiUS database and how to get access to it, see http://www.rand.org/radius

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