Federal Research Centers: Revising DOD Oversight Policy Could Assure Access to Performance and Effectiveness Information

What GAO Uncovered

To support satisfy its research requires, the Office of Defense (DOD) sponsors 10 Federally Funded Exploration and Improvement Facilities (FFRDC), which are nonprofit, college-affiliated, or business organizations. Each and every DOD-sponsored FFRDC is managed by a certain military services office or organization, called the primary sponsor.

Principal sponsors will have to carry out in depth reviews at the very least as soon as each and every 5 several years in component to justify their deal awards for the FFRDCs, together with contracts awarded on a sole-resource basis. The critique procedure features assessments of different resources, and information and facts about FFRDC overall performance that key sponsors gather per year to help the agreement award procedure. DOD’s Business office of the Below Secretary of Protection for Study and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) also has obligations for overseeing the FFRDCs (see determine).

Illustrations of DOD Responsibilities for FFRDCs

Even though main sponsors assess the overall performance of their FFRDCs just about every yr, OUSD(R&E) is not assured of accessibility to this info on an annual basis. Major sponsors are demanded by DOD coverage to report to OUSD(R&E) on the resources—including funding—they allocate to the FFRDCs each and every year. Nevertheless, the coverage does not expressly require primary sponsors to provide this place of work with functionality data on an once-a-year foundation. Exterior of the detailed evaluation process—which occurs as occasionally as every 5 years—OUSD(R&E) depends on the willingness of principal sponsors to share the information and facts. Officers mentioned they effectively obtain technical info on the final results of FFRDC investigate each individual calendar year. Having said that, they have encountered resistance to requests for more data, such as obligations data at the undertaking stage. OUSD(R&E)’s visibility into effectiveness data to decide the FFRDCs’ effectiveness could similarly be restricted if a principal sponsor was unwilling to share the info. Assurance of obtain to once-a-year functionality and other pertinent information and facts about the usefulness of the FFRDCs would much better place OUSD(R&E) to assess the extent to which the FFRDCs carry on to assist DOD’s priorities.

Why GAO Did This Analyze

FFRDCs are meant to fulfill DOD’s long-phrase analysis and advancement desires that are not able to be satisfied efficiently by the office or personal sector by itself. DOD traditionally awards FFRDC contracts on a sole-resource foundation (i.e., noncompetitively). Some business associates have raised concerns about this solution, stating that others could present related assist to DOD.

An explanatory statement incorporated a provision for GAO to overview DOD-sponsored FFRDCs. This report describes the analyses DOD conducts to justify the award of sole-source FFRDC contracts, and assesses the extent to which DOD oversight contains an analysis of FFRDC effectiveness and efficiency.

GAO reviewed suitable federal and protection rules, documents, and steerage interviewed related officers and analyzed contracting documents.