Congressional Research Service


Date of this Version



Published by Congressional Research Service,, RS21267


The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account of the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports the acquisition and construction of major research facilities and equipment that are to extend the boundaries of science, engineering, and technology. The facilities include telescopes, earth simulators, astronomical observatories, and mobile research platforms. Currently, the NSF provides approximately $1.0 billion annually in support of facilities and other infrastructure projects. While the NSF does not directly design or operate research facilities, it does have final responsibility for oversight and management. Questions have been raised by many in the scientific community concerning the adequacy of the planning and management of NSF facilities. In addition, there has been debate related to the criteria used to select projects for MREFC support. H.R. 1867, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007, directs the National Science Board to evaluate NSF’s current policies for allocation of costs, and management and operation of major research equipment and facilities. This report will be updated periodically.