Federally Funded Research and Development Center

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A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFDRC) was known as a Federal Contract Research Center (FCRC) until 1967, when it was renamed by the Federal Council for Science and Technology (FCST).

A FFDRC is a public research institute which is contracted by a government agency to perform research and development, as well as engineering support. A FFRDC is otherwise known as a government-owned/contractor operated (GOCO) institute, meaning that it is "owned by the government" but "operated by non-government contractors." [1]


"These general criteria describe FFRDCs as the 'R&D-performing organizations that are exclusively or substantially financed by the Federal Government and are supported by the Federal Government either to meet a particular R&D ojective or, in some instances, to provide major facilities at universities for research and associated training purposes.'

"FFRDCs do not have a prescribed organizational structure. They cover a wide range of GOCO structures with various degrees of contractor/government control and ownership. Managing contractors can be industrial firms, universities, nonprofit institutions, or even consortia. FFRDCs are thought to complement other government and private sector R&D centers in meeting agency core area needs." [2]

According to the Department of Defense, "specific objectives for FFRDCs are to:

  • 1. Maintain over the long-term a competency in technology areas where the Government cannot rely on in-house or private sector capabilities.
  • 2. Develop and transfer important new technology to the private sector so the Government can benefit from a wider, broader base of expertise.
  • 3. Engage in research programs that emphasize the evolution and demonstration of advanced concepts and technology, and the transfer or transition of technology." [3]


Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) "were first established during World War II to meet specialized or unique research and development needs that could not be readily satisfied by government personnel (due to limits on federal salaries and hiring) or commercial contractors. Additional and expanded requirements for specialized services led to increases not only in the size but also in the number of FFRDCs, which peaked at 74 in 1969." [4]

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers Administered by Non-Profit Institutions

Department of Defense

Department of Energy

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) Administered by Academic Institutions

Department of Defense

  • For the Department of the Army
  • For the Department of the Air Force

Department of Energy

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Science Foundation

SourceWatch Resources

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