What Is an FFRDC?

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, or FFRDCs, are unique independent entities sponsored and funded by the U.S. government to meet long-term technical needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing governmental or contractor resources. FFRDCs typically assist government agencies with scientific research and analysis, systems development, and systems acquisition. They bring together the expertise and outlook of government, industry, and academia to solve complex technical problems. 

FFRDCs work in the public interest and operate as strategic partners with their sponsoring government agencies to ensure the highest levels of objectivity and technical excellence. They are typically managed by a university or nonprofit parent organization in accordance with regulatory guidelines. 

First established during World War II, FFRDCs operate in the areas of defense, energy, aviation, space, health and human services, and tax administration. 

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IDA operates three FFRDCs: the Systems and Analyses Center (SAC), the Center for Communications and Computing (C&C), and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). IDA operates these FFRDCs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Agency, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and the National Science Foundation, respectively. Our sponsors turn to IDA for two very important reasons: our independence and our freedom from conflicts of interest. IDA provides objective analyses of national security issues and related national challenges, particularly those requiring extraordinary scientific and technical expertise.

IDA’s only business is to operate FFRDCs; we do no work outside the FFRDC framework. As a result, the relationship between the FFRDC and the parent corporation is very close. Unlike some FFRDCs, IDA has no other lines of business.