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Office of Audits

Mark Bell
Assistant Inspector General
Office of Audits

The Office of Audits, headed by the Assistant Inspector General for Audit, is responsible for auditing grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements funded by the Foundation's programs. We review agency operations and ensure that financial, administrative, and programmatic aspects of agency operations are conducted economically and efficiently. We conduct financial audits to determine whether costs claimed by awardees are allowable, reasonable, and properly allocated. We conduct outreach to NSF, to grantees, and to the audit and IG communities. To see samples of outreach material, click here. Request additional outreach information or schedule an outreach event via

Our audits also seek to identify practices that can reasonably be modified in the future, thereby allowing funds to be used for other purposes that our customers consider more important. In addition, we conduct performance audits that identify problems so Foundation managers can improve operations. We are also responsible for the annual audit of the National Science Foundation's financial statements, which includes evaluations of internal controls and data processing systems.

By providing independent and objective assessments of NSF’s program and financial performance, we are committed to improving NSF's business policies and practices to better support NSF in promoting science and engineering research and education.

To accomplish our mission we endeavor to maintain open communication and work in partnership with NSF management. We try to assist NSF management in improving NSF operations and to identify and manage program risks at an early stage. Our audits are conducted in accordance with the Government Auditing Standards and fall within two main areas: External and Internal.


We conduct financial audits of NSF's awards and awardee institutions to determine whether costs claimed by awardees are allowable, reasonable, and properly allocated. Our audits also seek to identify uneconomical practices that may be modified so that funds can be used for other purposes that taxpayers consider more important. Our mission includes supporting NSF in carrying out its mission to promote science and engineering research and education. One of the ways that we support NSF is through ensuring the application of its own and federal regulations concerning award administration. This is, in general, the basis for our audits and reviews and our staff keeps abreast of changes and updates to all of these regulations.


Internal audits are reviews of selected NSF programs and operations, which provide management with an independent appraisal of whether desired results and objectives are achieved efficiently, economically, and in accordance with prescribed laws, regulations, policies, and procedures. These audits, which are mandated by the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, complement other facets of management control. Management should and does conduct its own evaluations to determine the effectiveness of internal controls over their program areas. The key differences between such evaluations and internal audits conducted by the OIG are the independence of the OIG from the management of such programs, which gives additional assurances that sound practices are being followed and that our recommendations are unbiased, and the responsibility placed on the OIG by the IG Act to report on the results of our audits to the NSB and the Congress. We fulfill our reporting requirements primarily through our Semiannual Report to the Congress.