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News Release 08-114

NSF Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Department of Defense for National Security Research

Social and behavioral scientists invited to study U.S. security issues

Photo of a handshake.

The Memorandum of Understanding will support social and behavioral research.

July 2, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Defense (DoD) that would allow researchers to apply for grants to study subjects that may be of interest to U.S. national security.

Officials anticipate the MOU will fund work leading to new knowledge about topics such as religious fundamentalism, terrorism and cultural change. The results may have uses for U.S. armed forces and other DoD agencies.

"To secure the national defense was one of the original missions we were given when we were chartered in 1950," said David Lightfoot, assistant director of NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate. "We've always believed that sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and other social scientists, through basic social and behavioral science research, could benefit our national security. In fact, we've always done so through various research projects. The MOU gives us another tool and more resources to do what we've always done well."

According to the MOU, funding for research projects will be determined on a case-by-case basis. DoD will consider supporting proposals submitted to regular NSF programs managed by SBE. In return, DoD will get the gold standard for the U.S. peer review process ensuring the research meets specific criteria for intellectual merit and broader impact.

Grant proposals will be evaluated by SBE's normal merit-review panels, though Pentagon officials will have some input into who sits on the panels. The research will not be classified and there will be no constraints on the researchers' ability to publish their results.

As long as both parties agree, the MOU will remain in effect for three years and could be extended.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Mark L. Weiss, NSF, (703) 292-7272, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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