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June 23 -- The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF) invites comments to OMB regarding its request to renew the Higher Education Research and Development Survey. Comments are invited by July 25, 2022. This request includes the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers R&D survey.

The Higher Education Research and Development (R&D) Survey (formerly known as the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges) originated in fiscal year (FY) 1954 and has been conducted annually since FY 1972. The survey represents one facet of the higher education component of the NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) statistical program authorized by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 § 505, codified in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (NSF Act), as amended, at 42 U.S.C. 1862. The collection also includes the Federally Funded Research and Development (FFRDC) R&D survey, which has been conducted annually for all FFRDCs since 2001. Between 1953 and 2001, only FFRDCs administered by academic institutions were surveyed.

The proposed project will continue the annual survey cycle for three years. The Higher Education R&D Survey will provide continuity of statistics on R&D expenditures by source of funding, type of R&D (basic research, applied research, or development), and field of research, with separate data requested on research equipment by field.

Data are published in NSF's annual publication series Higher Education Research and Development, available on the web at http://www.nsf.gov/​statistics/​srvyherd/​. (Includes access to current questionnaires and technical documentation.)

The Federally Funded Research and Development Centers R&D survey will also provide continuity of statistics on R&D expenditures by source of funding (federal, state and local, business, nonprofit, or other, and federal agency source), and type of R&D (basic research, applied research, or development). Beginning with FY 2022, the FFRDC R&D survey will collect headcounts and full-time equivalents of R&D personnel (researchers, R&D technicians, and R&D support staff). Data are published in NSF's annual publication series FFRDC Research and Development Survey, available on the web at https://www.nsf.gov/​statistics/​srvyffrdc/​.

The FY 2022 Higher Education R&D Survey will be administered to approximately 650 institutions. In addition, a shorter version of the survey asking for R&D expenditures by source of funding and broad field will be sent to approximately 275 institutions spending at least $150 thousand but less than $1 million on R&D in their previous fiscal year. A short population review screener is also sent to approximately 125 institutions before the survey cycle to identify potential eligible institutions not already in the survey frame. Finally, a survey requesting R&D expenditures by source of funds, cost categories, and type of R&D will be administered to the 42 Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.    

NCSES anticipates investigating the collection of data concerning total R&D capital expenditures and the depreciation of R&D assets. Pending the results of that study, NCSES will determine the most appropriate methods and frequency for collecting the data and assess its suitability for integration into the HERD survey. NCSES anticipates conducting question research and question testing on this topic from 2022 into 2023. The questions for respondent testing will be based on those discussed with the Council on Government Relations, an association of research universities, in April-May 2022.  

Only minor instructional changes were made to the FY 2022 HERD questionnaire. The total personnel headcount on Question 15 will no longer be confidential. This is consistent with how the personnel headcount data were collected prior to the question being expanded in FY 2020. The demographic data on Question 15 that were added in FY 2020 will continue to be confidential.  

A new question collecting information on headcounts and full-time equivalents (FTEs) by function (e.g., researcher, R&D technician, and R&D support staff) will be added to the FY 2022 FFRDC questionnaire. A version of this question is already on the HERD survey, as well as other NCSES R&D surveys, and will contribute to NCSES’s ability to provide information about the number of personnel performing R&D.

Data for the FY 2019 HERD Survey were collected from 916 institutions (647 standard HERD survey and 269 Short Form Survey). The FY 2020 survey was collected from 915 institutions (655 standard HERD survey and 260 Short Form Survey). The FY 2021 survey included 914 institutions (651 standard HERD survey and 263 Short Form Survey). NCSES expects relative stability in both the HERD and the Short Form populations each year with some new institutions added as they meet the minimum threshold.

The FY 2019-21 FFRDC R&D Surveys have included the full population of FFRDCs each year (42 in FY 2019-20 and 43 in FY 2021). The number of FFRDCs will revert to 42 in FY 2022 due to the decertification of the Judiciary Modernization Engineering Center in January 2021. The size of the FFRDC population has been very stable over time.

High response rates have consistently been obtained: in FY 2019 the response rate for the HERD Survey was 96.7%, in FY 2020 it was 96.0%, and in FY 2021 the response rate was 95.0%. The FFRDC R&D Survey response rate has been 100% each year.

HERD/FFRDC submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202206-3145-002 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FR notice inviting comments to OMB: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-13399
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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