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National Science Foundation
Web Policies and
Important Links
design element
Web Policies and Important Links
Data Quality Standards
Conflicts of Interest
Copyright and Reuse of Graphics and Text
Use of NSF Logos
Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act
Links to External Sites
Privacy Policy
Web Accessibility
No FEAR Act Data
e-Gov Initiatives
e-Gov Content Inventory
Performance Assessment
HSPD-12
Plain Language


e-Gov Content Inventory

INTRODUCTION/NSF MISSION

Created in 1950, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for advancing science and engineering (S&E) in the United States across a broad and expanding frontier. NSF plays a critical role in supporting fundamental research, education and infrastructure at colleges, universities, and other institutions throughout the country.

Unlike most other federal research agencies, NSF does not operate its own laboratories or research facilities (with the exception of operations in the polar regions). Instead, NSF’s role is that of a catalyst, seeking out the best Ideas, providing state-of-the-art Tools and facilities, and identifying the most capable People and allowing them to pursue innovation. NSF directly supports scientists, engineers, and educators through their home institutions, usually colleges and universities, throughout the United States.

The NSF mission is set out in the preamble to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (Public Law 810507):

To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.

Ninety percent of NSF funding is allocated through a merit-based competitive process. On average, NSF receives 40,000 research proposals and makes nearly 10,000 awards to 1,700 colleges, universities, and other public institutions throughout the country annually.

In addition to authorizing support of basic scientific research, the Act makes NSF responsible for an information base on science and engineering appropriate for development of national and international policy, including facilities for S&E research, and for addressing issues of equal opportunity in science and engineering.

WEB CONTENT AND THE NSF MISSION

The NSF website provides information that is targeted to four primary user groups: the research and education community that competes for NSF research awards; the public, including K-12 educators; public information/media professionals; and those who use NSF statistical information on science and engineering.

  1. The Research & Education Community
    Our primary audience is the research and education community. Potential applicants for NSF support use the Web site for information on sources of funding, procedures for application, and how to manage an award. Most of the information on these pages is posted automatically to the Web from program and funding databases to present the most current information possible.

  2. The Public
    The NSF mission includes improving public understanding of public policy issues involving science and technology through support for programs of informal science and engineering. This is accomplished primarily through awards for media projects, museum exhibitions, and curriculum support. The NSF Website presents a changing array of stories and images about discoveries related to NSF supported projects, along with links to science stories in the media, and on-line curriculum resources for teachers and students.

  3. Public Information Professionals
    While some Web content is designed for the public to search and use directly, some content is designed to make information on recent discoveries highly accessible to public information professionals, to encourage its use in media beyond the Web. This includes images and films packaged for professional use as well as contact information for the public information office at NSF.

  4. Science and Engineering Statistics
    The NSF Act calls on the agency to collect and present data on U.S. science and engineering. In the last 10 years the NSF has placed a library of detailed S&E statistical data on line, from detailed statistical tables to current topical updates. Thousands of pages of data on measures of science and engineering activity are available to researchers and analysts from the NSF Web site.

  5. About NSF
    Many pages on the Web site are maintained for the convenience of unanticipated users: information for visitors, those looking for job or contracting opportunities, and those who need information on the agency itself, related to such topics as budget, organization, performance assessment or policy. In addition, there are Web pages maintained independently by the National Science Board and the NSF Office of Inspector General, both of whom post some regular public reports.

PRIORITIES AND SCHEDULES

The tables of Web content, below, use the following definitions for priorities:

  • Priority 1: Required by Law, regulation, Presidential Directive or other official directive or to ensure national security.

  • Priority 2: Mission-critical and essential for program operations, but not required by law, regulation, or Presidential Directive.

  • Priority 3: Frequently requested information or services that would improve business processes and/or customer service to the public.

  • Priority 4: Other information.

Information on schedules refers to due dates for mandated reports, periodicity of updates (if applicable), or (in the case of statistical data) the most current existing data.

CURRENCY AND SEARCHABILITY

NSF uses two methods to maximize the usability of the Web site for users: maintaining up-to-date information, and making the content conveniently searchable.

To maintain currency, major Web content areas are updated automatically. These include program information, information on existing awards and funding, staff contact information, and lists of available publications. When any office in NSF takes formal action to update information on programs or staff, the same data automatically updates the external Web site. Updated internal records of award status and funding actions are available to the Web site daily. And when a publication is prepared, the approval system also makes that publication available to the Web site.

In addition, the process of approving new program information includes an automated check to ensure that potential applicants have a minimum of 90 days prior to the proposal deadline or target date. As a result, the information on the external NSF Website is both up-to-date and highly usable for potential award applicants.

WEB CONTENT FOR USER AUDIENCES

The index page for the NSF Web site allows users to select content organized for their needs: as applicants for funding, as educators or students, as the press, or as the interested public. The “NSF Update” functionality provides e-mail alerts to subscribers when new information is posted in the categories they select.

NSF developed this inventory of website content as required by Section 207 (f)(2) of the E-Government Act of 2002.

NSF WEBSITE INFORMATION INVENTORY TABLE

Information for the Research and Education Community (including University Sponsored Research Offices)

Information Priority Schedule
Funding Opportunities. The website presents a browsable, searchable catalog of NSF’s funding opportunities with links to Grants.gov.
3
Automatically updated from funding database
divider line
Awards. NSF’s past awards are made available to the public for searching through our Awards Search application.
3
Automatically updated from awards database
divider line
Application Information. The website contains a central repository of information for researchers on how to apply for funding, including information about how to use Grants.gov.
2
NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide is updated each year, and other information in this area is updated as needed.
divider line
Information for Awardees: The website contains a central repository of information for awardees, to help them find answers to questions about managing their awards
3
as needed

Information for the Public (including Educators)

Information Priority Schedule
Research Overviews: These are high-level summaries of the major areas of science that NSF supports, as well as overviews of the current priority funding areas.
3
As needed
divider line
Discoveries: This section of the website is an ongoing series of articles describing notable results from NSF funded research. The articles are posted and managed from a central database.
3
As posted
divider line
NSF in TV & Film: includes films & TV, museum exhibits, radio, Web and life-long learning.
3
As posted
divider line
Classroom Resources: includes links to National Science Digital Library, and is browsable by research area.
3
As posted
divider line
Publications: All of NSF’s official publications--including policy documents, budget submissions, Congressional reports, newsletters, and statistical releases--are organized in a central database so visitors can easily browse or search to find a specific document.
3
Updated as new documents are published.
divider line
Overview of NSF: includes ‘what NSF does’ and “how NSF works,’ history of NSF, and ‘visiting NSF’
3
As needed
divider line
Staff Directory: includes organization chart, senior management, staff list and search for staff.
3
Updated automatically from staff list database
divider line
Career Opportunities
3
Updated automatically from approved vacancy announcements
divider line
Contracting Opportunities
3
As posted
divider line
NSF Organizations: The website contains information describing the mission, structure, and programs for each NSF organization.
3
As needed

Information for Public Information Professionals

Information Priority Schedule
divider line
News releases. The news release section of the site is managed by a central database, and includes a searchable archive of previous releases.
3
As posted
divider line
Speeches and Presentations. NSF makes public speeches and presentations by its top executives available on the website.
3
As posted
divider line
Multimedia Gallery. This is a growing collection of images, audio, and movies pertinent to the work of NSF.
3
As posted

Information on Science and Engineering Statistics

Information Priority Schedule
divider line
SRS Publications: NSF’s Science Resources Statistics (SRS) Division produces a series of publications presenting science statistics that NSF collects.
1
NSF publishes a schedule of releases at http://www.nsf.gov
/statistics /release.cfm

Information for Congress and Oversight Agencies

Information Priority Schedule
divider line
NSF Budget Request
2
Annually
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NSF Performance and Financial Highlights
1
Annually
divider line
Women, Minorities & Persons with Disabilities in S&E
1
Biennial Report to Congress
divider line
S&E Research Facilities Series
1
Biennial Report to Congress
divider line
Required Reports:
Federal Activities Inventory (FAIR)
Committee on Equal Opportunity in S&E (CEOSE)
Science & Engineering Indicators
Inspector General’s Semi-Annual Report
1
Annual Report
Biennial Report to Congress
Biennial Report to Congress
Semi-Annual Report to Congress

 

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