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Data on Federal Research and Development Investments: A Pathway to Modernization Appendix B Guide to Federal Grants and Contracts Databases This appendix describes the main sources of information about federal grants and contracts—grants.gov and USAspending.gov; the databases that support them—the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS); and two specialized databases—the Office of Management and Budget MAX Information System and the National Institutes of Health IMPAC II system. The descriptions summarize their usefulness in terms of the discussion in this report. GRANTS.GOV Grants.gov is the main portal for grant applicants. Managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), grants.gov is used by 26 federal agencies that award grants, including almost all of the agencies that respond to the federal funds surveys from the Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Grants.gov offers a standardized interface, which has simplified the research grant application process. As of fall 2008, grants.gov did not offer an accessible system for aggregating data on either grant applications or grant awards, but the portal does offer some promise for enabling a common reporting system for data on research grant awards across multiple federal agencies. Because grant applicants complete the information entered into grants.gov, this system offers an ideal mechanism for allowing individual scientists to note their field of science (for example, Ph.D. field, field of employing department, and the project’s field of science). In addition,
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Data on Federal Research and Development Investments: A Pathway to Modernization using grants.gov to collect administrative data about awarded grants would enable cross-references to reported agency spending and university acquisition of federal funds. USASPENDING.GOV USAspending.gov was created in response to the requirement of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (Transparency Act). USAspending.gov aims to provide the public with information about how their tax dollars are spent. The ability to look at contracts, grants, loans, and other types of spending across many agencies, in greater detail, is a key ingredient to building public trust in government. USAspending.gov collects data about the various types of U.S. government contracts, grants, loans, and other types of spending. For the convenience of users, USAspending.gov presents data in a different way than in many transactional databases, making it more easily understood and accessed. The original data fields and information are also available unmodified in USAspending.gov. The data can be seen if the user chooses the “Complete (all information)” level of detail, which is available on all data searches. In some cases USAspending.gov has modified data from the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). FEDERAL ASSISTANCE AWARD DATA SYSTEM (FAADS) The Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS) was established by Title 31 Section 6102(a) of the U.S. Code, which mandates a uniform system for reporting information on federal government financial assistance transactions. Since 1982 the Census Bureau has served as the executive agent for FAADS. The Census Bureau receives data files from federal awarding agencies and disseminates them electronically. Although FAADS is neither an accounting system nor a searchable database, it provides detailed listings of federal awards to specific institutions, which permits detailed reports on federal funding by performing institutions, geographic locations, and type of performer. There is currently no simple method for separating research and development (R&D) spending from other forms of federal spending, and FAADS does not capture all forms of federal extramural spending. However, FAADS does include reports from nearly all of the NSF SRS respondent units. Thus, FAADS does allow for detailed listings of extramural research grants from sponsoring agencies (such as NSF), and as such offers great promise in being able to populate federal support survey data fields.
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Data on Federal Research and Development Investments: A Pathway to Modernization FEDERAL PROCUREMENT DATA SYSTEM (FPDS) The Federal Procurement Data System—Next Generation (FPDS-NG) is the central repository of information on federal contracting and contains detailed information on contract actions over $3,000 (FY 2004 and subsequent data). The FPDS data system aims to identify who buys what, from whom, for how much, when and where. It is managed by the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC), part of the U.S. General Services Administration. FPDS inputs into the FFATA-mandated database, but appears to have little relevance to NSF SRS because its reports and data focus on procurement actions, a category of federal spending mostly distinct from R&D. Related to the above databases is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), a comprehensive source of federal assistance opportunities that is updated continually; it does not contain a data reporting function, however, meaning it is unlikely to be relevant for obtaining funding data. According to the FDPS website, “The ability to look at all contracts across many agencies, in greater detail, is a key component in establishing trust in our government and credibility in the professionals who use these contracts.”1 MAX INFORMATION SYSTEM (MAX) The Office of Management and Budget uses the MAX Budget Information System to collect, validate, analyze, model, and publish budget information. OMB’s MAX Budget Systems provide an integrated platform for the collection, retrieval, manipulation, presentation, and publication of budget data. The system is used extensively throughout the year. The database includes hundreds of budget “versions” encompassing current and past policy, baseline, program and financing, object class, character class, credit, federal employment, financial management, program assessment, congressional action, and special budget exercise data. Research and development contacts are classified in object class 25.4 (advisory and assistance services), 25.4 (operation and maintenance of facilities) or 25.5 (research and development contracts) as appropriate. IMPAC II IMPAC II (Information for Management, Planning, Analysis, and Coordination) is an internally focused National Institute of Health system that supports management system of research grants and maintains a data repository for reporting tools and functions for the public. IMPAC II is 1 Available: http://www.fpdsng.com/questions.html.
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Data on Federal Research and Development Investments: A Pathway to Modernization integrated with the NIH eRA Commons—an online interface where grant applicants, grantees and federal staff at NIH and grantor agencies can access and share administrative information relating to research grants—to permit a two-way flow of information between NIH and the external research community.