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“I have come to view NSF not so much as a government agency but rather as a source of ideas and discovery, as a wellspring, if you will, of creativity. Our role at NSF is not so much to sustain as to spark discovery.”

Dr. Rita Colwell
NSF Director
Speech at University of Washington, June 9, 2000


Photo of Rita R. Colwell

A Message from the Director of the National Science Foundation

I am pleased to present the National Science Foundation’s Accountability Report for 2000. The report highlights a few of the Foundation’s many achievements that help keep the United States at the forefront of learning and discovery in science and engineering research and education. You will also learn how NSF makes its investments in the future of America and manages the public resources entrusted to it.

During this year, the Foundation celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Looking back from the beginning of a new century, it is difficult to imagine a time when the structure of the DNA molecule was unknown and computers were half the size of a football field. Now scientists and engineers have delineated the entire human genome, and computers are found in kitchen appliances, bank cards, and children’s toys.

The Foundation played a significant role in each of these developments. We sponsored studies in the early 1950’s that laid the foundation for Watson and Crick’s now famous discovery of the double helix. In the following decades NSF-supported research in fundamental biology became a vital part of the knowledge that culminated in the unraveling of the human genetic code—a discovery that promises a revolution in health care and disease prevention. NSF’s leadership has also been invaluable in work on plant genomics.

Similar success stories can be told about revolutionary advances in computing—and dozens of other innovations that now make our every-day lives richer, healthier and more productive. In fact, economists estimate that 50 percent of U.S. economic growth over the past 50 years can be chalked up to the fruits of science and engineering research.

This year NSF can once again report significant advances at the frontiers of knowledge. Investigators supported by NSF have located six newly identified extra-solar planets, found black holes drifting through space, and taken the first pictures of the universe in its infancy. They have discovered bacteria, isolated for millions of years, in the Antarctic ice just over Lake Vostok, and learned that other bacteria living just below the earth's surface can be coaxed to rapidly convert oil to methane gas. Still others have worked to improve science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels from pre-school to post-doctoral.

Nothing is more important to the prospects of the nation than the ability to create and make use of knowledge. It’s our job at the National Science Foundation to make sure that U.S. capabilities are the best in the world, and that the returns to the American people—who support these activities with their tax dollars—meet their highest expectations.

It is also our goal to adhere to the highest standards of management efficiency and integrity. I am therefore pleased to report that the financial information and the data measuring NSF’s performance that are contained in this report are complete and reliable.

Signature of Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
Rita R. Colwell




The NSF Vision

Enabling the Nation’s future through discovery, learning and innovation.
Realizing the promise of the 21st century depends in large measure on today’s investments in science, engineering and mathematics research and education. NSF investments—in people, in their ideas, and in the tools they use—will catalyze the strong process in science and engineering needed to secure the Nation’s future.


The NSF Statutory Mission

To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.





Photo of Thomas N. Cooley, Chief Financial Officer

A Message from the Chief Financial Officer

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is pleased to issue its third annual Accountability Report. This report, which also serves as the Foundation’s annual report, is an integrated presentation of NSF’s programmatic and management performance, including how we have responded to our financial management and management control responsibilities.

I am pleased to report that in FY 2000, for the third consecutive year, NSF’s annual independent financial statement audit has resulted in an unqualified “clean” opinion, and a review of program and management controls did not identify any material weaknesses or reportable conditions. NSF’s one reportable condition from prior years related to property, plant and equipment has been resolved, and overall, NSF made considerable progress towards achieving its annual performance goals in FY 2000.

This year marks the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary. There have been many significant achievements in financial and operations management during these first 50 years, however, the complexity of the environment in which federal financial managers must operate is changing rapidly. There is an ever increasing demand for accurate and timely financial and management information, to assess programmatic activities and to enable better decision-making. NSF is well positioned to meet these challenges and build upon our past accomplishments as a leader of “e-Gov” practices, use of advanced information technologies, and in federal financial accountability and performance.

Regarding the latter, I am particularly proud to note that last year NSF was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting by the Association of Government Accountants. This recognition is a testament to NSF’s quality financial management processes and the innovative staff here who make it happen. Looking into the future, it will be important for NSF to focus on human capital resource planning strategies to maintain our highly skilled management and programmatic workforce.

Thank you for your interest in our FY 2000 Accountability Report. I invite you to visit the NSF Web site ( for more information on the exciting science and engineering research and education projects that the Foundation supports.

Thomas N. Cooley
Chief Financial Officer




“Something special has happened to the American economy in recent years. . . .a remarkable run of economic growth that appears to have its roots in ongoing advances in technology.”

Alan Greenspan
Chairman, Federal Reserve Board
Speech before the Joint Economic Committee, June 14, 1999



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