Partnerships in Service to Society, 1994-1995 Annual Report
About the National Science Foundation
NSF is an independent federal agency created by the National Science Foundation
Act of 1950 (P.L. 81-507). Its aim is to promote and advance scientific
and engineering progress in the United States. The idea of such a foundation
was an outgrowth of the important contributions made by science and technology
during World War II. From those first days, NSF has had a unique place in
the Federal government: It is responsible for the overall health of science
and engineering across all disciplines. In contrast, other federal agencies
support research focused on specific missions, such as health or defense.
The Foundation is also committed to ensuring the Nation's supply of scientists,
engineers, and science educators.
NSF funds research and education in science and engineering through grants,
contracts, and cooperative agreements to more that 2,000 colleges, universities,
and other research institutions in all parts of the United States.
NSF receives about 53,000 requests for funding (both new and renewal projects)
each year and makes about 20,000 awards. These typically are awarded to
universities, colleges, academic consortia, nonprofit institutions, and
small businesses. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support
National Research Centers, certain oceanographic vessels, and Antarctic
research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between
universities and industry and U.S. participation in international scientific
The Foundation is led by a presidentially appointed director and a National
Science Board composed of 24 outstanding scientists, engineers, and educators
from universities, colleges, industries, and other organizations involved
in research and education.
NSF is structured much like a university, with grants-making divisions for
the various disciplines and fields of science and engineering and science
education. NSF also uses a formal management process to coordinate research
in strategic areas that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The
Foundation is helped by advisors from the scientific and engineering community
and from industry who serve on formal committees or as ad hoc reviewers
of proposals. This advisory system, which focuses on both program direction
and specific proposals, involves more than 59,000 scientists and engineers
a year. NSF staff members who are experts in a certain field or area make
award recommendations; applicants get anonymous verbatim copies of peer
Awardees are wholly responsible for conducting their research and preparing
the results for publication; the Foundation does not assume responsibility
for such findings or their interpretation.
NSF welcomes proposals on behalf of all qualified scientists and engineers
and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities
to compete fully in its programs. In accordance with federal statutes and
regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age,
sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation
in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any
program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF.
Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED)
provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with
disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research
assistants) to work on NSF projects. See the program announcement or contact
the program coordinator.
The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf)
and FIRS (Federal Information Relay Service) capabilities, which enable
individuals with hearing impairment to communicate with the Foundation about
NSF programs, employment, or general information. To access TDD, dial (703)
306-0090; for FIRS, 1-800-877-8339.
The 1994-1995 Annual Report originally was published as a special section of the July/August 1996 issue of Frontiers.