What Is an FFRDC?

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are unique, private-sector entities that have unusually close, special relationships with their U.S. Government sponsors. They meet long-term research or development needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing governmental or contractor resources. FFRDCs typically assist government agencies with scientific research, systems development and acquisition, and analyses of other issues that are integral to the missions and operations of the agencies they support. They bring together the expertise and outlook of government, industry, and academia to solve complex problems.

First established during World War II, FFRDCs operate in the public interest as strategic partners with their sponsoring government agencies to ensure the highest levels of objectivity and technical excellence. They are typically managed by universities or nonprofit organizations in accordance with regulatory guidelines.

IDA manages three FFRDCs:


The FFRDC is required to conduct its business in a manner befitting its special relationship with the Government, to operate in the public interest with objectivity and independence, to be free from organizational conflicts of interest, and to have full disclosure of its affairs to the sponsoring agency.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Section 35.017



Government sponsors turn to these FFRDCs for three reasons: our independence; our freedom from conflicts of interest; and our record of producing rigorous, informed, data-driven analyses that impact government decisions. A trusted, compelling contributor to U.S. security and technology debates, IDA analyzes issues and challenges of national importance, particularly those requiring extraordinary scientific, technical, and analytic expertise.

IDA has no other lines of business outside the FFRDC framework. Our sole focus is on supporting our government sponsors in service to the nation. (PDF)