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  NSF Creation and Mission

NSF on 16th Street

The NSF's first location at 901 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C

Find out more about the NSF, from 1950 to the present.

NSF - Celebrating 50 Years

 

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:

  1. 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.
     
  2. Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
     
  3. Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
     
  4. Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
     
  5. 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 programs.
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. 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.
     
  8. 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 upon society.
     
  9. 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 organizations.
     
  10. 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.
     
  11. Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others under-represented in science and technology.

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