Created by on 05/17/2011

On May 10th and 11th, the National Science Board (NSB) held one of five annual meetings to receive updates from its standing committees and discuss issues relevant to the direction of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Board’s Task Force on Merit Review described results of its recent evaluation of NSF intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria. Although NSB members acknowledged that further analysis of the criteria would be beneficial, the Board agreed to provide guiding principles to the NSF Director, who is required by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 to submit to Congress a development and implementation plan for the broader impacts criterion by the end of June.
The NSB Task Force on Data Policies and an internal NSF working group are proceeding cautiously as they consider policies to minimize barriers to data access. Both groups rejected a one-size-fits-all approach and recognized the potential economic implications of open access policies for publishers and scientific societies.
A session on the NSF budget included an overview of the final fiscal year (FY) 2011 continuing resolution. NSF anticipates that the most challenging of the FY 2011 budget reductions to manage will be those affecting Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction projects.
Other items on the meeting agenda included presentations by recent NSB Honorary Award Recipients, a review of draft chapters of NSB’s 2012 Science and Engineering Indicators report, an update from the Task Force on Unsolicited Mid-Scale Research, and strategic planning for the NSF education portfolio. The next NSB meeting is scheduled for July 28th and 29th.
Also last week, the NSF released a new five-year strategic plan which will guide the agency’s priorities and investments.Entitled Empowering the Nation Through Discovery and Innovation: NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2011-2016, it outlines three goals which aim to transform scientific frontiers, innovate for society, and achieve operational excellence at the agency. The document also describes a role for NSF in assessing the impact of scientific research, citing NSF’s involvement in the multiagency Science and Technology for America's Reinvestment: Measuring the Effect of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science initiative as one example.