Influence on Administrative Decisions:
An Examination of NSF and NIH
Research Grant Funding to
Thomas M. Rabovsky, University of Oklahoma
William Curtis Ellis, Auburn University, Montgomery
Objective. This study examines grant funding to four-year universities to determine if institutions with more powerful congressional delegations receive more in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science
Foundation (NSF). Methods. We analyze grant awards to public and private not-for profit universities from 2000 through 2009. We employ panel-corrected standard errors with panel-specific AR1 terms to determine the influence of representation on key congressional committees, in conjunction with institutional characteristics, such as size and mission, in shaping institutional success in securing grant revenues.
Results. Time series, cross-sectional analysis suggests that members of the U.S. House and Senate may be able to influence the allocation of seemingly merit-based grants and contracts made by the NIH and the NSF. Conclusion. We find some evidence that congressional-bureaucratic relationships impact grant receipts, though the effects are moderate in magnitude.
Higher Education and Congressional Influence on Administrative Decisions
As tuition and fees have skyrocketed at American colleges and universities over the past decade and a half, higher education finance has become increasingly salient in both popular and academic circles. Much of the literature on higher education finance focuses on the extent to which current financial trends, particularly regarding the finance of public institutions, impact student outcomes (Bettinger, 2004; Blose, Porter, and Kokkelenberg, 2006; GansemerTopf and Schuh, 2006; Ryan, 2004; Titus, 2006, 2009; Zhang, 2009) and the overall quality of education provided by American colleges and universities
Direct correspondence to Thomas M. Rabovsky, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1315 E.
10th St., Rm. 201, Bloomington, IN 47405 firstname.lastname@example.org . Thomas Rabovsky will shall share all data and coding for replication purposes. The authors thank Alisa Hicklin Fryar,
Thaddieus Conner, Matthew Nowlin, and the rest of the policy group at the University of
Oklahoma for their helpful comments and suggestions on this project.
SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, Volume 95, Number 3, September 2014
C 2014 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
Higher Education and Congressional Influence
(Bowen et al., 2005, 2009; Zumeta et al., 2012). Traditionally, student tuition and subsidies from state governments have been the primary sources of funding for public universities in the United States, and as a result, the vast majority of the literature concerning higher education finance focuses on these two streams of revenue. In recent years, however, as costs at institutions of higher learning have increased faster than state governments can match, other revenue sources, such as funds related to research grants and contracts, have taken on an increased significance (Weisbrod, Ballou, and Asch, 2008).
Currently, scholars know very little about the systematic relationships that influence decisions by federal agencies to award grants to colleges and universities. Until recently, the higher education community tended to focus on nonpolitical forces in terms of explaining patterns in higher education finance
(McLendon, 2003), but in the last decade there have been several notable works that used theories of politics and public policy to explain patterns in higher education finance (Lowry, 2001; McLendon, Hearn, and Mokher,
2009; McLendon, Mokher, and Doyle, 2009; Okunade, 2004; Richardson and Martinez, 2009; Tandberg, 2006, 2010; Wong and Shen, 2002). We build on this growing body of research by employing a framework of political control and influence to better understand how federal agencies make