FFRDCs-A Primer

April 2015
Topics: Strategic Planning, Government Agency Operations, Federal Government Services, Government Acquisition, Investment Strategies
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For nearly 70 years, federally funded research and development centers, or FFRDCs, have been vital to our nation’s growth and security.They have supported the government by developing transformational capabilities in defense, transportation, energy, civil agency administration, homeland security, atmospheric sciences, science policy, and other areas.Yet their existence remains largely unknown to the average person.Even those familiar with FFRDCs may be hard-pressed to explain their history, purpose, and operation.

FFRDCs are part of a “three-legged stool” that supports government research, technology development, systems acquisition, and policy guidance.The three “legs” are commercial industry, academic and related not-for-profit organizations (including FFRDCs), and government employees. Each of these institutional players approaches problems from a somewhat different angle, and each has an important role in driving innovation and solving problems.

In today’s dynamic fiscal, political, and technology environment, FFRDCs play an essential role in the application of government, commercial, and non-profit resources to address complex challenges. An understanding of that role adds an essential component to the conversation.