• Require that needed researchers are in agencies that can make agreements.

  • Agency reluctance to part with effective people.

  • Concerns about diminished loyalty and commitment to institutional culture among reassigned employees.

  • Conflicting demands on reassigned personnel who may sacrifice career opportunities at their own agencies.


  • Relatively inexpensive way to bring new knowledge and ideas into an agency.

  • Easy to arrange: personnel departments are skilled at making these arrangements.



  • Provide for specific services in a particular time frame; good for meeting clearly specified needs.

  • Contractors can be held accountable for performance and deliverables.

  • Can often be completed quickly.

  • Good for convening and facilitating workshops, maintaining networks, and other research support activities.

  • For some purposes private contractors can quickly put together interdisciplinary teams of experienced researchers and practitioners and can build and maintain networks over time.


  • Not ideal for innovation because they require a very thorough statement of work.


  • Effort of developing statement of work and fashioning of legal language to make contractors accountable (can be minimized in organizations that extend contracts regularly.

  • Usually more expensive than competitive grants because they must include full administrative costs.

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