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Policy Statement 444 - The Role of the Federal Government in Civil Engineering Research and Development


Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 26, 2015
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 16, 2015
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 18, 2015


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports a focused federal civil engineering research and development (R&D) program. R&D programs should promote new U.S. capabilities, improve efficiencies, and advance the practice of civil engineering to improve the quality of life.

ASCE encourages coordinated and integrated basic and applied civil engineering research that leverages federal R&D funds through government-university-industry partnerships. R&D programs fostering basic research should focus on maintaining a steady flow of talent and technology to U.S. industry and agencies. R&D programs focusing on higher risk research with the potential for high payoff should meet national needs and improve the quality of life by:

  • Enhancing public health and safety;
  • Enhancing environmental quality;
  • Supporting the goals of sustainable development;
  • Developing and improving test methods and standards for evaluating materials, products, and systems;
  • Improving public works infrastructure;
  • Improving global competitiveness in U.S. civil engineering products and processes;
  • Enhancing national security against terrorism and other threats; and 
  • Ensuring national energy security.


Federal R&D funding currently provides a substantial percentage of the total U.S. civilian R&D investment. Federal leadership is essential to civil engineering research.  Inadequate federal funding hinders the ability to maximize the leveraging of R&D funds through government-university-industry partnerships.


The 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the nation's infrastructure a grade of D+ with an estimated need of $3.6 trillion to bring into good condition. Great potential exists to reduce cost and improve performance of the nation's infrastructure by developing new technologies and processes. The federal government is one of the largest providers of funding for the nation's infrastructure and as a result it has an interest in research and development to reduce cost and improve performance. 

ASCE Policy Statement 444
First Approved in 1996