Federal Obligations to Research Universities

About the chart
UCLA, USC, and Caltech remain the top three universities in federal obligations within Los Angeles County.  Between 2007 and 2016, federal obligations to UCLA ranged from about $481 to $617 million, USC from about $269 to $389 million, and Caltech from about $157 to $237 million.  All three universities remain in the top tenth percentile for federal obligations in the country while UCLA remains in the top ten.

What is a federal obligation?
A federal obligation of funds is a legal liability to disburse funds immediately or later as a result of a series of actions.  Funds are available for a federal obligation during the fiscal year for which they are apportioned and until the close of the following fiscal year.  For full definition, please visit the website of Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

How is federal obligation related to innovation?
Research universities, especially public ones, rely on federal obligations of funds to conduct research that further innovation.  Innovation is not limited to new inventions.  The term is used overall to describe utilizing new and current resources in an unprecedented way that benefit humanity.  Examples of innovation that Los Angeles County’s research universities have brought to the world are: the Internet (UCLA Newsroom, October 2009), artificial retinal implant (USC News, November 2013), and liquid metal foam for sport equipment (Caltech, October 2009).