The Council on Governmental Relations was established in May 1948 when the Central Association of College and University Business Officers formed a committee to represent the five regional associations of college and university business officers.
At that time, the United States government changed from military procurement to investment in academic research. Several insightful business officers recommended that universities explore how the independent governance of academe could be reconciled with increasing federal support. The new committee was expected to develop effective principles for university government contracting, to seek acceptance of general principles in university-government relationships, and also to be a vehicle for innovation and change.
A Washington office was opened in fall 1960. COGR's activities evolved in subsequent years in response to the increasing influence of governmental regulations, policies, and practices. As these rules began to reach beyond the fiscal sector into all areas of policy affecting the performance of research at educational institutions, COGR expanded its technical expertise and broadened its scope of activities. At the same time, COGR narrowed its focus to represent primarily interests of research-intensive universities. Thus, COGR assumed a specialized function compared to the overall mission of the business officers. Since 1979, COGR has included faculty members and research administrators, in addition to business officers on its Board. COGR incorporated as a separate organization in September 1993 and began operating independently on January 1, 1994. COGR collaborates with other specialized higher education associations and their respective constituencies.
Today, COGR addresses the unique issues its member universities face as a result of receiving a significant share of the federal funds provided by research contracts and grants. COGR serves these needs by addressing compliance issues associated with the administration of federally sponsored programs for faculty and graduate students. COGR's activities reflect an awareness of the growing interface between federal and private sector funding. A major goal of COGR is the education of federal funding agencies about academic operations and the avoidance of unnecessary regulatory burdens. COGR represents universities collectively, not individually. The positions it takes reflect a consensus of its membership and are believed to be in the general best interest of the research university community.