Created by on 12/03/2010

On December 1st and 2nd, the National Science Board (NSB) held one of five annual meetings to receive updates from its working committees and discuss issues relevant to the direction of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Highlights of the meeting agenda included sessions on NSF strategy and budget, open access policies, and NSF’s merit review criteria.

Attending his first NSB meeting as NSF Director, Dr. Subra Suresh reported on the current status of fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations. Outlining the effect a year-long continuing resolution at FY 2010 levels would have on the NSF budget, Dr. Suresh specifically cited Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction and NSF staff levels as the areas likely to be most negatively impacted. The NSB Committee on Strategy and Budget also reported on the development of a revised NSF Strategic Plan. Pending final modifications to the document and approval by NSF/NSB and the Office of Management and Budget, the plan will be released in February with the FY 2012 budget request.     
During a session on data policies, three guest speakers briefed the Board on the status of open access publishing. The first speaker, Dr. John Vaughn of the Association of American Universities, summarized conclusions from a report released earlier this year by the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable. A workshop on these issues, hosted by the NSB Task Force on Data Policies, is scheduled to take place on March 27th – 29th, 2011.
The Task Force on Merit Review updated the Board on its plans for an upcoming evaluation of NSF’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria. During an initial data gathering phase, the task force will seek input from principal investigators, NSF program leaders, professional associations representing academic institutions, and other stakeholders. By mid-December, the group plans to launch an online survey to solicit public comments on the effectiveness of the criteria and their impacts on research project development.        
Other agenda items discussed at the meeting included planning for the 2012 edition of NSB’s Science and Engineering Indicators report; policies to improve K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and math; a brief discussion of unsolicited mid-scale research; facilities portfolio management; and polar region research. The next NSB meeting is scheduled for February 15th and 16th.