Higher Education and Congressional Influence on Administrative Decisions: An Examination of NSF and NIH Research Grant Funding to Four-Year Universities


  • 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.



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).


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.


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.


We find some evidence that congressional-bureaucratic relationships impact grant receipts, though the effects are moderate in magnitude.