The Effects of Congressional Appropriation Committee Membership on the Distribution of Federal Research Funding to Universities
This paper examines the impact of congressional representation of a university through district representation or an alma mater affiliation on the distribution of research funding to research and doctoral universities in the United States. Because appropriations are allocated to agencies on an annual basis, Congress and agencies may be considered strategic actors that seek to minimize as well as exploit their differences in informational asymmetries. Using a data set that covers more than twenty-five years of data, I find there are strong effects from congressional representation on the distribution of research funding. These effects vary based on the type of representation, the seniority of the member serving on the committee, as well as the type of ownership of the university (private or public). Depending on the empirical specification, political diversions of research funding range between four and forty-eight percent. Surprisingly, the diversions associated with an alma mater affiliation are more robust than the diversions associated with district representation, suggesting the existence of political slack. These results suggest that informational asymmetries play a role in the level of congressional influence on agency actions. In addition, the results suggest that actions taken by members of the appropriations committees vary based on their tenure on the committees.
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