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National Science Foundation
About NSF
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About
NSF at a Glance
Who We Are
What We Do
How We Work
Glossary
History
Visit NSF
Staff Directory
Organization List
Career Opportunities
Contracting Opportunities
NSF & Congress
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About the National Science Foundation

NSF AT A GLANCE

Photo - NSF building, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington. Click for credit. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of $7.2 billion (FY 2014), we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. MORE

View a two-minute video overview of NSF's mission and focus. And, a five-minute video about NSF support for fundamental research, Foundation for Innovation.

Check out our NSF Toolkit, with resources providing information about the impact of NSF's investments.

Visit NSF's Open Government Initiative Web site.

WHO WE ARE

Photo, Nanowire. Click for Credit.NSF leadership has two major components: a director who oversees NSF staff and management responsible for program creation and administration, merit review, planning, budget and day-to-day operations; and a 24-member National Science Board (NSB) of eminent individuals that meets six times a year to establish the overall policies of the foundation. The director and all Board members serve six year terms. Each of them, as well as the NSF deputy director, is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Arlington, Va., headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General. MORE

WHAT WE DO

Photo - Person on mountain with rock hammer. Click for credit. As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. We are tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports "high-risk, high pay-off" ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today's revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow's top scientists and engineers. MORE

HOW WE WORK

Photo - People at conference table with computers. Click for credit.NSF's task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a "top-down" process. NSF operates from the "bottom up," keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research. MORE

 

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