The NSF's first location at 901 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C
Find out more about the NSF, from 1950 to the present.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the
U.S. Government, established by the National Science Foundation Act of
1950, as amended, and related legislation, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq., and
was given additional authority by the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities
Act (42 U.S.C. 1885), and Title I of the Education for Economic Security
Act (20 U.S.C. 3911 to 3922).
The Foundation consists of the National Science Board of 24 part-time
members and a Director (who also serves as ex officio National Science
Board member), each appointed by the President with the advice and consent
of the U.S. Senate. Other senior officials include a Deputy Director who
is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the U.S.
Senate, and eight Assistant Directors.
The Act established the NSF's mission:
To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity,
and welfare; and to secure the national defense.
The Foundation's organic legislation authorizes it to
engage in the following activities:
- Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and
engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering
research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise
the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
- Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
- Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists
and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
- Foster and support the development and use of computers and other
scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education
in the sciences.
- Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering
and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating
its research and educational programs with other Federal and non-Federal
- Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection,
interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources
in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy
formulation by other Federal agencies.
- Determine the total amount of Federal money received by universities
and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering
research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities
where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report
annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
- Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities
in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national
security, and the effects of scientific and technological applications
- Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including
applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and,
at the direction of the President, support applied research at other
- Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion
of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen
research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including
independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
- Support activities designed to increase the participation of women
and minorities and others under-represented in science and technology.