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Internal Research and Development

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s flagship technology-development program, IRAD funds risk-reduction activities for mission and instrument opportunities, advanced concept development, and long-range, high-impact activities. It features both competed and directed components.

How the Program Works

Each spring, the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) solicits research proposals through an integrated call for proposals. Successful proposals demonstrate identified opportunities of interest and support some or all or subsets of Goddard’s Lines of Business (LOB). They also build the skills of Goddard employees. Only Goddard civil servant employees may submit proposals, and OCT discourages the funding of contractors to perform work on winning proposals. Access the Proposal Ingest, Review and Evaluation System.

Evaluators judge proposals on technical merit and whether they directly support Goddard’s strategic Lines of Business, enhance the Center’s competitive posture, and represent an effective and efficient use of resources. Evaluators also consider whether the technology has a realistic future and the extent and evaluate the significance of progress as result of this investment. 

Other NASA Funding Sources
Included below are research opportunities offered by offices at NASA Headquarters.

Center Innovation Fund

The Center Innovation Fund (CIF) is a critical element in the Goddard’s efforts to remain competitive and at the forefront of technology development. Since its inception in 2011, the CIF program has funded longer-term, over-the-horizon-type technologies that are low in their technical readiness for adoption into missions. CIF projects are viewed as true “seedlings,” enabling next-generation science and exploration and keeping Goddard and NASA at the cutting edge.

Because the OCT already had in place a mature, widely understood process for selecting proposals under its Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program, proposals don’t specifically compete for CIF support. Rather, they submit proposals under the generic call for R&D proposals and the evaluation teams determine the appropriate funding source.

As with the IRAD program, OCT competitively down-selects proposals based on innovation, technical merit, feasibility, effective resource planning and utilization, return on investment, and a general comparative assessment. Additionally, CIF-funded proposals need to demonstrate exceptionally innovative, crosscutting technologies which typically have lower technology readiness levels.