NSF Seeking Research Community Input on Next Strategic Plan

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Publication date: 
24 August 2016

The National Science Foundation is soliciting feedback on the foundation’s next strategic plan, which will set its vision statement, core values, and strategic goals and objectives from 2018 to 2022.

The National Science Foundation has issued a call to the public and the scientific community for feedback on its vision, core values, and strategic goals and objectives. Results will inform the development of the foundation’s next strategic plan, which will span 2018 through 2022.

NSF’s current strategic plan (summary brochure available here) was finalized in 2014 and is in effect through 2018. The foundation will develop the new strategic plan in 2017 and 2018, with an initial draft expected to be ready in May 2017.

NSF seeks input from individuals and organizations by Sept. 27, 2016. Comments can be submitted through the NSF website here, and any questions can be addressed to strategicplan [at] nsf.gov.

NSF pursuing input from a variety of sources

The development of the new strategic plan will be a joint effort of NSF and the National Science Board (NSB), in particular its Committee on Strategy and Budget, which is chaired by Arizona State University inventor and engineer Sethuraman Panchanathan. During advisory committee meetings this fall, NSF and NSB will engage with representatives from the research and education communities, industrial representatives, and organizational management experts to solicit their input into the plan. NSB and the foundation will also seek input from Congress.

In the coming months, NSF will provide opportunities for all of the foundation’s staff to participate in plan development, and much of the detailed drafting will involve the leadership of NSF’s six research directorates. In addition to building on the current strategic plan, the new plan will draw on NSF’s ten “big ideas,” existing budget narratives, and the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report.

By May 2017, NSF will submit a first draft of the strategic plan to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The plan will subsequently be opened to a period of public comment before it is finalized.

As specified by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, each federal agency’s strategic plan serves as a performance management tool. OMB holds agencies to their strategic goals and objectives and will evaluate NSF each year based on progress made toward priority goals. In addition, the law requires each federal agency to produce a new strategic plan by the first Monday in February following the year in which a presidential term commences, a deadline which next falls on Feb. 5, 2018.

Foundation’s next strategic plan will build on 65-year history

NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018NSF’s mission, as set by Congress in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, is “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.” The law and the creation of the NSF were inspired by Vannevar Bush’s landmark 1945 report Science: The Endless Frontier, which made the case for expanding federally funded basic research and called for the establishment of a “National Research Foundation.” The report is widely considered to be one of the most influential and seminal American science policy documents.

While a change to NSF’s mission statement would require another act of Congress, the foundation generally revisits its vision, core values, and strategic goals every four years. NSF’s current vision statement reaches for “A Nation that creates and exploits new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in research and education.” and the foundation's core values are scientific excellence, organizational excellence, learning, inclusiveness, and accountability for public benefit.

The foundation’s current strategic goals and objectives include:

"GOAL 1: Transform the Frontiers of Science and Engineering

  • Objective 1: Invest in fundamental research to ensure significant continuing advances across science, engineering, and education.
  • Objective 2: Integrate education and research to support development of a diverse STEM workforce with cutting-edge capabilities.
  • Objective 3: Provide world-class research infrastructure to enable major scientific advances.

GOAL 2: Stimulate Innovation and Address Societal Needs through Research and Education

  • Objective 1: Strengthen the links between fundamental research and societal needs through investments and partnerships.
  • Objective 2: Build the capacity of the Nation to address societal challenges using a suite of formal, informal, and broadly available STEM educational mechanisms.

GOAL 3: Excel as a Federal Science Agency

  • Objective 1: Build an increasingly diverse, engaged, and high-performing workforce by fostering excellence in recruitment, training, leadership, and management of human capital.
  • Objective 2: Use effective methods and innovative solutions to achieve excellence in accomplishing the agency’s mission."


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