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National Science Foundation


Research Facilities Survey

Under the direction of Congress, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has conducted the Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities (Facilities Survey) approximately every two years since 1986 to assess the capacities and needs of research facilities. The goal of the Facilities Survey is to provide a broad, quantitative picture of the inventory and condition of existing science and engineering research facilities at research-performing academic institutions. The survey provides data on the current capital expenditures for science and engineering research facilities; sources of funding for research facilities; plans for future repair, renovation, and new construction of research facilities; deferred repair and renovation; and computing and networking capacity.

Westat was the contractor for the first three full-scale surveys and has conducted the FY 2003, FY 2005, FY 2009, FY 2011 and FY 2013 surveys. Each administration has included at least some slight changes in the survey itself. The 2003 contract included a major redesign of the survey in order to improve data quality and relevance and to reduce respondent burden. The most recent contract (FY 2011 and FY 2013) activities performed by Westat include the review and cleaning of the population frame, collection and processing of the survey data (i.e., editing, data retrieval, weighting, and imputation), production of detailed statistical tables and a methodology report, and delivery of a comprehensive data repository. Project staff also conduct various workshops and methodological investigations related to past and future data collection efforts (e.g., review and modification of questionnaire content, review of past data retrieval efforts, and investigation of past space reporting by respondents).

The current survey, secured by login credentials, is divided into two distinct sections: Part 1, which collects information on science and engineering research facilities at institutions of higher education; and Part 2, which collects information on computing and networking capacity at the institutions. Completion of the survey usually requires input from multiple administrators and faculty at the surveyed institutions. The web-based survey is designed to support multiple logins from a single institution. For each institution a coordinator is identified who assists in ensuring the completion of the survey by the institution. The Coordinators are asked to give specific parts of the survey to knowledgeable individuals at the institution for its completion.