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Fact Sheet

NSF FY16 Budget Request

February 2, 2015

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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 President's 2016 Budget is designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st Century. This Budget shows what we can do if we invest in America's future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America. It lays out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America's hard-working families get ahead in a time of relentless economic and technological change. And it makes the critical investments needed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the long run, including in research, education, training, and infrastructure.

These proposals will help working families feel more secure with paychecks that go further, help American workers upgrade their skills so they can compete for higher-paying jobs, and help create the conditions for our businesses to keep generating good new jobs for our workers to fill, while also fulfilling our most basic responsibility to keep Americans safe. We will make these investments, and end the harmful spending cuts known as sequestration, by cutting inefficient spending and reforming our broken tax code to make sure everyone pays their fair share. We can do all this while also putting our Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path. The Budget achieves about $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, primarily from reforms to health programs, our tax code, and immigration.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) was established in 1950. Its mission is to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. To support this mission, the Budget provides $7.7 billion in discretionary funding for NSF. This funding level will continue NSF’s longstanding commitment to making investments in learning and discovery that will grow our economy, sustain our competitive advantage, and enable America to remain the world leader in innovation. It embraces the challenge of ensuring that scientific discovery and technological breakthroughs remain engines for expanding the frontiers of human knowledge and responding to the challenges of the 21st century.


Funding Highlights:

  • The President's FY 2016 Budget provides $7.7 billion for the National Science Foundation to expand the frontiers of knowledge and to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth by building an innovation economy and educating a globally competitive workforce. This includes:

    • Building an innovation economy through investments in a broad portfolio of fundamental research, as well as investments in strategic areas such as advanced manufacturing and clean energy; and

    • Preparing a globally competitive workforce by supporting advanced education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


  • Increasing the impact of the Agency’s investments and operational efficiency by expanding public access to the results of research and reducing the cost of processing research grant proposals


Advances Our Understanding of the Brain.
The Budget provides $144 million to enable scientific understanding of the full complexity of the brain in action and in context. This encompasses ongoing cognitive science and neuroscience research and includes NSF’s contribution of $72 million to the Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovation and Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Supports Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems.
The Budget provides $75 million to understand, design, and model the interconnected food, energy, and water system through an interdisciplinary research effort that incorporates all areas of science and engineering and addresses the natural, social, and human-built factors involved.

Invests in Disaster Resilience.
The Budget provides $58 million to address the Nation’s need for resilience in response to disasters both natural and manmade through both core programs and focused activities.

Provides Leading Edge Capabilities and Infrastructure for Research and Education.
The Budget provides $143 million to support the Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science, Engineering, and Education which will accelerate and transform the process of scientific discovery and innovation by providing advanced cyberinfrastructure and new capabilities in computational and data-enabled science and engineering.

The Budget also invests $100 million in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), an 8-meter-class wide-field optical telescope designed to carry out surveys of the entire sky. It will open a new era in "time-resolved astronomy" as its 3-billion pixel digital camera and wide field of view enable previously impossible studies of the variable sky. LSST will observe transient events such as exploding stars and the motion of asteroids. Combining these abundant images also traces billions of remote galaxies to provide new insights into dark matter and dark energy. FY 2016 represents the third year of construction funding for this nine year project.

Invests in the Long-Term Competitiveness of American Manufacturing.
The Budget provides $257 million for Cyber-enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems, which aims to integrate a number of science and engineering activities across the Foundation – breakthrough materials, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and cyber-physical systems. It will address pressing technological challenges facing the Nation and promote U.S. manufacturing competiveness.

Accelerates the Commercialization of University Research.
The Budget provides $30 million for Innovation Corps to improve NSF-funded researchers’ access to resources that can assist in bridging the gap between discoveries and downstream technological applications.

Supports the Long-Term Development of a Clean Energy Economy.
Clean Energy investments are driven by the fundamental research questions that underlie future energy pathways. The Budget provides $377 million for clean energy investments to support research and education in alternative energy for electricity (solar, wind, wave, geothermal) and fuels (chemical and biofuels).

Educates a Globally Competitive American Workforce and Promotes Advanced Education for the Jobs of Tomorrow.
NSF supports a range of investments in developing the workforce for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), most notably by injecting new vision and commitment into efforts to broaden participation in STEM fields. The Budget provides a total of $1.2 billion for STEM education activities, including:

  • NSF Research Traineeships, which, in its third year, continues to identify priority research themes that both align with NSF priority research activities and have strong potential in areas of national need where innovative practices in graduate education can be developed.
  • CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program that supports cybersecurity education and research at higher education institutions. SFS also focuses on workforce development by increasing the number of qualified students entering the fields of information assurance and cybersecurity.
  • Graduate Research Fellowship Program which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.
  • Improving Undergraduate STEM Education to accelerate the improvement of education of undergraduates in all STEM fields by using decades of research on STEM learning and best practices in education to address challenges across fields as well as within specific disciplines.
  • NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science), which aims to develop a scalable, national initiative to increase the preparation, participation, advancement, and potential contributions of those who have been traditionally underserved and/or underrepresented in the STEM enterprise.

Increases Public Access to Research Results
NSF continues to improve public access to NSF-funded research. The agency will build on existing technology to track research products, allow investigators and awardees to make their products known and available, and allow the general public, researchers, and policy makers to locate and use those products.

Reduces Costs Associated with Merit Review Process
In FY 2016, NSF expects to evaluate over 51,700 proposals through a competitive merit review process and make over 12,000 new awards. This will require over 225,000 proposal reviews, engaging on the order of 35,000 members of the science and engineering community participating as panelists and proposal reviewers. Through the use of virtual panels, NSF anticipates saving $500,000 a year beginning in 2016 as the rate for compensating reviewers participating virtually is reduced by roughly 30 percent.


Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, 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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