University Funding:

Patterns of Distribution of Federal Research Funds to Universities

RCED-87-67BR: Published: Feb 5, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) provided information on the distribution of federal research funds to universities and colleges by institution, state, agency, and field of science; and (2) analyzed the effects of historical trends, direct congressional action, field of science, demographic and socioeconomic factors, and the use and distribution of peer reviewers on patterns of distribution.

GAO found that: (1) the percentage of federal research and development funds the 100 most-funded universities and colleges received remained stable from 1967 to 1984; (2) there was a change in the composition of the top 100 universities; (3) the top 100 institutions received 88 percent of the federal research funds in 1967 and 86 percent in 1984; (4) the designation of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds for institutional development was not related to the change in institutional rank in funding from 1967 to 1984; (5) funding was concentrated in relatively few states and institutions; (6) 40 institutions that ranked below the top in total research funds ranked among the top 20 in a particular field of science; (7) funding to universities and colleges by state positively correlated to population size, the number of employed scientists and engineers, the number of advanced degrees colleges granted in science and engineering, and federal research and development funds to other than universities and colleges; and (8) NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF) peer review participants and the number of NIH and NSF awards are less concentrated geographically than NIH and NSF research funds.

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