Federal Research Projects:

Concerns About DOE's Super Collider Site Selection Process

RCED-87-175FS: Published: Aug 6, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) selection of a site for its proposed superconducting super collider (SSC) to determine whether: (1) precedents exist for selecting sites for multimillion dollar research projects on the basis of competitive bidding, with states providing land and other incentives; (2) federal research and development funds have become more concentrated over the past 20 years; and (3) federal agencies have made any efforts to distribute these funds among as many states as possible.

GAO found that: (1) there was one precedent for siting a facility that was similar to the proposed procurement; (2) although DOE is prohibited from expending funds to review proposed incentives other than land, offerers are not precluded from including promises of financial incentives or use of their own resources to improve site suitability; (3) although there were instances where those seeking federal research awards provided matching funds or other contributions, those research projects were smaller and were evaluated primarily for scientific merit; (4) geographic concentration of federal research and development funds has remained constant over a 20-year period; and (5) most federal agencies have limited mechanisms for ensuring geographic distribution of funds and generally consider scientific quality the major criterion in funding decisions.

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