The National Science Foundation's Strategic Plan

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Publication date: 
25 April 1995

A good overview of how NSF will meet the challenges of coming years
is provided in a document entitled "NSF in a Changing World, The
National Science Foundation's Strategic Plan."  This 38-page report
was prepared by the NSF Task Force on Strategic Planning and
Policy, and was approved by the National Science Board.  Excerpts
from the plan's Executive Summary follow:

"Today, NSF's role as a leader and steward of the Nation's science
and engineering enterprise faces new tests -- promoting new
approaches to research, education, and workforce training that
reach all Americans; responding to the increased importance of
science and engineering in many aspects of daily life; modernizing
the Nation's research infrastructure, and adapting to a constrained
budget environment."

"The purpose of this plan is to delineate NSF's unique
contributions to science and engineering research and education and
to the Federal research portfolio.  The plan provides a context for
shaping NSF's future by noting how recent domestic and global
changes have affected our national research and education
priorities.  Within this context, the plan sets forth NSF's
mission, its vision, and the following long-range goals:

"Enable the U.S. to uphold a position of world leadership in all
aspects of science, mathematics and engineering.  This goal grows
from the conviction that a position of world leadership in science,
mathematics, and engineering provides the Nation with the broadest
range of options in determining the course of our economic future
and our national security.

"Promote the discovery, integration, dissemination, and employment
of new knowledge in service to society.  This goal emphasizes the
connection between world leadership in science and engineering on
the one hand, and contributions in the national interest on the
other.  It provides the impetus for setting fundamental research
priorities in areas that reflect national concerns."  (A four page
section describes three priority areas: improved environmental
quality; harnessing information technology; and job creation and
economic growth.  Under these three areas are NSF's seven strategic

"Achieve excellence in U.S. science, mathematics, engineering, and
technology education at all levels.  This goal is worthy in its own
right, and also recognizes that the first two goals can be met only
by providing educational excellence.  It requires attention to
needs at every level of schooling and access to science,
mathematics, engineering, and technology educational opportunities
for every member of society."

The strategic plan identifies four "core strategies that NSF will
employ.  These strategies reaffirm the Foundation's traditions,
especially its reliance on merit review of investigator-initiated
proposals, yet at the same time point to new directions for the
Foundation".  They are "develop intellectual capital," "strengthen
the physical infrastructure," "integrate research and education,"
and "promote partnerships."

The Executive Summary concludes: "This strategic plan is an
invitation to the research and education communities to respond to
a rapidly changing world.  It emphasizes a set of principles,
goals, and core strategies for science, mathematics, and
engineering that are aimed at developing a greater sense of
interdependence between the research and education communities and
the public.  Only by succeeding in this partnership can we
realistically expand the promise of science and more fully engage
the public in its future course."

The document is available through the NSF Home Page on the World
Wide Web at this address:  To obtain a printed
copy, call the foundation at 703-306-1130, or e-mail to
pubs [at]  The publication number is NSF95-24 (NEW).

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