In 1993, the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine issued the report Science, Technology and the Federal Government's National Goals For a New Era. In that report, COSEPUP suggested that the United States adopt the principle of being among the world leaders in all major fields of science so that it can quickly apply and extend advances in science wherever they occur. In addition, the report recommended that the United States maintain clear leadership in fields that are tied to national objectives, capture the imagination of society, or have a multiplicative effect on other scientific advances. To measure international leadership, the report recommended the establishment of independent panels that would conduct comparative international assessments of scientific accomplishments in particular research fields.

Since 1995, the National Science Foundation has been examining various modes of response to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). This act requires an evaluation of how well the Foundation has met its strategic goals, which are:

Given the recommendations by COSEPUP, it was decided to conduct an international assessment of the mathematical sciences, as a demonstration project in response to the GPRA requirement. Hence, in March 1997, a Panel was assembled to conduct such an assessment. The Panel consisted of leading mathematicians drawn largely from outside of the United States and of individuals from important U.S. stakeholder communities that are strongly dependent on the mathematical sciences. None had received recent NSF funding for their research in the mathematics sciences. This report is the result of the Panel's deliberations.

Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.