Geographical Distribution Of Federal Science Funds To Colleges And Universities

PSAD-76-94: Published: Apr 16, 1976. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1976.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) geographical distribution of federal research and development funds to colleges and universities; (2) information and data on some of the federal programs established in the 1960s to strengthen academic science; and (3) factors accounting for progress by some universities in competing for federal research and development funds.

GAO noted that: (1) the federal government provides considerable funds to colleges and universities for both science and nonscience activities; (2) the latter includes a broad spectrum of funds for colleges, universities, and students which are not specifically related to science and engineering; (3) science funds provided in 1974 amounted to $2 billion for research and development and $651 million for research and development plant and equipment, training, education, and other science activities; (4) geographical distribution of federal funds to colleges and universities has broadened in the past decade; (5) this is true of total funds and science funds; (6) although the change in distribution patterns has not been extensive, it does show that flexibility exists in federal funding of such institutions; (7) the top 100 institutions in 1964 received 85 percent of the total federal funds, whereas the top 100 institutions in 1974 received only 66 percent; (8) this funding shift is primarily attributable to the large increase in federal funding of nonscience activities; (9) while only 6 percent of federal funds to colleges and universities in 1964 was for nonscience activities, it was nearly 40 percent in 1974; (10) in 1965 the President expressed concern that federal research and development funds were concentrated at a small number of colleges and universities; (11) the President directed agencies to build up academic excellence in every part of the country; (12) the top 20 institutions in 1964 received about 47 percent of research and development funds; (13) in 1974 the concentration had lessened somewhat, to about 40 percent; (14) during the past decade three institutions have advanced into the top 20 recipients and 8 have advanced into the top 50 recipients; (15) the shift of funds among institutions does not show up as a large change when analyzed by broad geographical regions because part of the shift is intraregional; and (16) there was a fairly close correlation between the regional distribution of federal research and development funds and the geographical location of science manpower associated with the colleges and universities--enrollment of graduate science and engineering students, award of Ph.D. degrees, and employment of science and engineering Ph.D.s.

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