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NSF Issues 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Alongside the release of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request (see related article), the National Science Foundation issued its latest five-year strategic plan, Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation, NSF Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. The new report outlines the agency’s strategic goals and objectives, which include: (1) expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning; (2) advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges; and (3) enhance NSF’s performance of its mission.

The plan also states that a “Performance Plan for FY 2019” has been developed and that it includes the following “Agency Priority Goal”: “Expand public and private partnerships to enhance the impact of NSF’s investments and contribute to American economic competitiveness and security.” Regarding this goal, the strategic plan states that “by September 30, 2019, NSF’s number of partnerships and/or award actions with other federal agencies, private industry, and foundations/philanthropies will grow by 5 percent…” The plan also lists three long-term performance goals: (1) ensure that key FY 2019 NSF-wide program investments are implemented and on track; (2) ensure program integrity and responsible stewardship of major research facilities and infrastructure; and (3) inform applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding in a timely manner. Full details of NSF’s FY 2019 Performance Plan are not currently public since NSF has not yet released its complete FY 2019 budget request.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Senate Commerce Committee Hears Updates from NSF, NIST Leaders

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation featured Dr. France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Dr. Walter Copan, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in a hearing on January 30 to examine the implementation of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). AICA was signed into law during the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017. AICA’s priorities included maximizing basic research, improving STEM education, and encouraging commercialization and technology transfer opportunities. Both NSF and NIST have taken many steps toward implementing the law including increasing oversight and accountability at both agencies and emphasizing the priorities of the act at their agencies. Dr. Córdova’s written testimony included a complete analysis of the steps NSF has taken to comply with the policy directives in the AICA.

During the hearing, Senators from both parties expressed concern about the U.S. being surpassed by China and other countries in terms of funding for science and innovation and called for continued diligence on the part of Congress and federal science agencies to maintain the U.S.’s position as the world’s leading innovator. Many Senators also discussed the importance of extending research opportunities and STEM education to diverse populations including community colleges, colleges and universities in EPSCoR states, minority communities, and women.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Science Board Releases Policy Statement on U.S. STEM-Capable Workforce

On February 1, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF),  released a companion policy statement to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators entitled “Our Nation’s Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a STEM-Capable U.S. Workforce.” The statement highlights the Board’s view that growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. The NSB also emphasized in its statement that STEM is not just for researchers with advanced degrees, but for all Americans and all segments of our population. More details can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Releases 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators

The National Science Board (NSB), the Presidentially-appointed advisory body to the National Science Foundation (NSF), has released the 2018 edition of its Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally-mandated compendium of data “relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise.” Published every two years, the indicators compile data on science and engineering education and the STEM workforce, international comparisons, and public attitudes toward science and engineering.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Academies Launches Reproducibility and Replicability Study

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held the first meeting of the study committee on Reproducibility and Replicability in Science on December 12 and 13.  The study is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is statutorily required by a provision in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. The committee will work to identify factors that affect reproducibility and replication, highlight best practices, and ascertain the extent of issues affecting reproducibility and replication. More information about project can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeking New Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources Directorate

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. Dr. Jim Lewis has served as Acting Assistant Director since January of 2016. The Assistant Director for EHR will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Graduate Education, the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, the Division of Undergraduate Education, and the Division on Human Resource Development.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; and a grasp of the issues facing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking to Fill Two Top Social Science Posts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Dr. Fay Lomax Cook has served in this position since September 2014. The Assistant Director for SBE will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the social, behavioral, and economic science communities, especially in the areas of education and fundamental research; and expertise with the production, analysis and dissemination of public data and statistics. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

Additionally, as previously reported, NSF is accepting applications for the position of Division Director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), NSF’s principal statistical agency housed within the SBE Directorate.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF’s Statistical Division Seeks Director

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for the position of Division Director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), NSF’s principal statistical agency housed within the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). The NCSES Division Director “assesses needs and trends involving the national surveys, implements overall strategic planning and policy setting for the Division, provides leadership and guidance to Division staff members, determines funding requirements, prepares and justifies budget estimates, balances program needs, allocates resources, oversees the evaluation of proposals and recommendations for awards and declinations, and represents NSF to relevant external groups.” More information is available in the posting on USAjobs. Applications must be submitted by December 4, 2017.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

GAO Recommends Changes to NSF Indirect Cost Guidance

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Indirect Costs for Research, finds that the National Science Foundation (NSF) “does not consistently take steps to ensure it pays no more than its fair share of indirect costs.” Indirect costs, also referred to as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, represent the portion of NSF awards that cover operational costs, such as maintenance, rent, and utilities. The report notes that while NSF has produced guidance for setting indirect cost rates, it is not implemented consistently. The report makes recommendations to ensure NSF staff follow its guidance more reliably, better document the process of setting indirect cost rates, and maintain consistency with the guidance set by other federal agencies. In a letter responding to the report (Appendix I), NSF concurred with GAO’s recommendations and outlined the steps it will take to implement them. The complete report and a highlights page are available on GAO’s website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Releases Video on Social Science Research’s Importance to Disaster Preparedness

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a video on September 15 highlighting the contributions of the social sciences in disaster preparedness and response. The video explains that together with improvements in the science of forecasting, social science has helped more effectively communicate the potential risk of natural disasters and more effectively respond after disasters hit. The video is among a suite of new resource posted to the NSF website highlighting the many contributions of basic science to everyday life.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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