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Description of NSF Directorates and Management Offices

The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) supports research programs ranging from the study of the structure and dynamics of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, through cells, organs and organisms, to studies of populations and ecosystems. It encompasses processes that are internal to the organism as well as those that are external, and includes temporal frameworks ranging from measurements in real time through individual life spans, to the full scope of evolutionary times. Among the research programs BIO supports is research that will advance understanding of the structure, organization and function of plant genomes.

The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) supports research on the theory and foundations of computing, system software and computer system design, human-computer interaction, as well as prototyping, testing and development of cutting-edge computing and communications systems to address complex research problems. CISE also provides the advanced computing and networking capabilities needed by academic researchers for cutting-edge research in all science and engineering fields. Among programs supported by CISE is the Partnerships for Advance Computational Infrastructure (PACI), a program that focuses on developing and providing the most advanced computing capabilities.

The Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) supports a cohesive and comprehensive set of activities that encompass every level of education and every region of the country. EHR promotes public science literacy as well as plays a major role in the Foundationís long-standing commitment to developing our nationís human resources for the science and engineering workforce of the future. Focus is given to programs that encourage the participation and achievement of groups underrepresented in science and engineering. NSF-supported education and training programs cover a broad spectrumófrom supporting students and teachers to creating new ways of teaching and learning to assisting school districts and other systems forge greater gains in learning.

The Directorate for Engineering (ENG) supports research and education activities that spur new technological innovations and create new products and services and more productive enterprises. ENG also makes critical investments in facilities, networks and people to assure diversity and quality in the nationís infrastructure for engineering education and research. Funding is included within ENG to meet the mandated level for the Foundation-wide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) supports research in the atmospheric, earth and ocean sciences. Basic research in the Geosciences advances our scientific knowledge of the Earth and advances our ability to predict natural phenomena of economic and human significance, such as climate changes, weather, earthquakes, fish-stock fluctuations, and disruptive events in the solar-terrestrial environment. GEO also supports the operation of national user facilities.

The Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) supports research and education in astronomical sciences, chemistry, materials research, mathematical sciences and physics. Major equipment and instrumentation such as telescopes and particle accelerators are provided to support the needs of individual investigators. MPS also supports state-of-the-art facilities that enable research at the cutting edge of science and research opportunities in totally new directions.

The Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) supports research to build fundamental scientific knowledge about human characteristics and behavior. SBE also supports the Foundationís international activities, providing U.S. scientists and engineers with access to centers of excellence in science and engineering research and education throughout the world. To improve understanding of the science and engineering enterprise, SBE provides informal tools for tracking the human and institutional resources that make up the nationís science and engineering infrastructure.

The Office of Polar Programs (OPP), which includes the U.S. Polar Research Programs and U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities, supports multi-disciplinary research in Arctic and Antarctic regions. The polar regions are geographic frontiers which provide premier natural laboratories and unique research opportunities, ranging from studies of the earth, ice and oceans to research in atmospheric sciences and astronomy.

The Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management (BFA) is headed by the Chief Financial Officer who has responsibility for budget, financial management, grants administration and procurement operations and related policy. Budget responsibilities include the development of the Foundationís annual budget, long range planning and budget operations and control. BFAís financial, grants and other administrative management systems ensure that the Foundationís resources are well managed and that efficient, streamlined business and management practices are in place. NSF has been acknowledged as a leader in the federal research administration community, especially in its pursuit of a paperless environment that provides more timely, efficient awards administration. BFA is also custodian of FinanceNet (, the federal governmentís Internet website for financial management information originally developed by NSF.

The Office of Information and Resource Management (OIRM) provides information systems, human resource management, and general administrative and logistic support functions to the NSF community of scientists, engineers, and educators as well as to the general public. OIRM is responsible for supporting staffing and personnel service requirements for staff members including visiting scientists; NSF's physical infrastructure; dissemination of information about NSF programs to the external community; and administration of NSFís sophisticated technological infrastructure, providing the hardware, software and support systems necessary to manage the Foundationís grant-making process and to maintain advance financial and accounting systems.

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