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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 efforts.

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 reviews.

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.

Return to Annual Report Contents   Return to Annual Report Contents

The 1994-1995 Annual Report originally was published as a special section of the July/August 1996 issue of Frontiers.

Return to July/August 1996 Frontiers home page   Other Contents of July/August 1996 Frontiers
Visit Other Frontiers Issues page   Other Frontiers Issues
Visit Other NSF Publications page   Other NSF Publications
Visit Office of Legislative and Public Affairs page   Office of Legislative and Public Affairs


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