Washington Update

National Science Board Discusses Policy Matters

By: Nabila Riaz
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
On February 21-22, the National Science Board (NSB) convened at the National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. NSB members engaged in discussions covering various science policy issues. These topics included NSF’s role in shaping the future of artificial intelligence (AI), an overview of the congressionally mandated State of U.S. Science and Engineering report, and an update from the NSB-NSF Commission on Merit Review. The board also paid tribute to the late former House Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and former NSF Director John Slaughter

NSF representatives Tess DeBlanc-Knowles, Staff Associate for Technology Policy and Strategy, and Michael Littman, Director of the Division on Information and Intelligent Systems, provided an overview of NSF’s support for AI research, particularly the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot program. This collaborative initiative aims to foster partnerships across academia, industry, nonprofits, and government sectors.

During the NSB committee reports, the Committee on Science and Engineering Policy discussed its preparations for the biennial report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, known as the S&E Indicators, released on March 13. The committee emphasized that the report would include a policy brief highlighting data and urgency concerning the STEM crisis, with a focus on supporting domestic STEM talent and attracting international talent. The board also deliberated on policy statements to accompany the biennial report, aiming to enhance the accessibility and value of the Indicators reports. The board approved the “Talent is the Treasure” policy message, incorporating key indicators such as the PreK–12 education crisis, basic research funding, skilled technical workforce, and recruiting and retaining foreign-born talent.

The NSB-NSF Commission on Merit Review presented its workplan with the board and expects to deliver a report with recommendations at the May 2024 meeting. The commission intends to propose renaming one of the two criteria, replacing "broader impact" with "societal benefit" to evaluate research proposals. Recordings of the Day 1 and Day 2 meetings are available on YouTube.

On March 7, the NSB Committee on Oversight (CO) held a teleconference. The meeting featured a presentation from the Office of the Inspector General concerning the investigation of research misconduct among recipients of NSF funding. The committee outlined NSF’s policies, procedures, and criteria for addressing research misconduct, which encompasses plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification. During the presentation, the committee provided data from the Research Integrity and Administrative Investigations Division regarding allegations of research misconduct received, as well as the number of research misconduct cases opened and closed, along with the outcomes of these cases. A recording of the presentation is accessible on  YouTube.