National Science Board

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National Science Board, NSF
National Science Board logo.png
Agency overview
Formed10 May 1950; 72 years ago (10 May 1950)
HeadquartersAlexandria, Virginia
MottoWhere Discoveries Begin
Agency executives
  • Ellen Ochoa, Chair
  • Victor McCrary, Vice-Chair
  • John Veysey, Executive Officer

The National Science Board (NSB) of the United States establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation (NSF) within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and the Congress. The NSB also serves as an independent policy advisory body to the President and Congress on science and engineering research and education issues. The Board has a statutory obligation to "...render to the President and to the Congress reports on specific, individual policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science engineering, as Congress or the President determines the need for such reports,"[1] (e.g. Science and Engineering Indicators; Report to Congress on Mid-scale Instrumentation at the National Science Foundation). All Board members are presidential appointees. NSF's director serves as an ex officio 25th member and is appointed by the President and confirmed by the US Senate.

Mission Statement[edit]

The Board's mission statement states: "Supporting education and research across all fields of science and technology and America's investment in the future."


The National Science Board was created through the National Science Foundation Act of 1950:

There is established in the executive branch of the Government an independent agency to be known as the National Science Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the "Foundation"). The Foundation shall consist of a National Science Board (hereinafter referred to as the "Board") and a Director.[2]

As an independent Federal agency, NSF does not fall within a cabinet department; rather NSF's activities are guided by the National Science Board (NSB or Board). The Board was established by the Congress to serve as a national science policy body, and to oversee and guide the activities of NSF. It has dual responsibilities to: a) provide independent national science policy advice to the President and the Congress; and b) establish policies for NSF.

The Board meets five times per year to review and approve major NSF awards and new programs, provide policy direction to NSF, and address significant science- and engineering-related national policy issues. It initiates and conducts studies and reports on a broad range of policy topics, and publishes policy papers or statements on issues of importance to U.S. science and engineering research and education enterprises. The Board identifies issues that are critical to NSF's future, and approves NSF's strategic plan and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Specifically, the Board analyzes NSF's budget to ensure progress and consistency in keeping with the strategic direction set for NSF and to ensure balance between new investments and core programs.


The President appoints 24 Members of the National Science Board[3] for six year terms. The NSF director serves as an ex officio 25th member. Every two years, one-third (eight) of the members rotate off of the Board and eight new members are appointed (or occasionally re-appointed) to serve six-year terms. Board member nominations are based on distinguished service and eminence in research, education and/or public service. Members are drawn from academia and industry, and represent a diverse range of science, technology, engineering, and education disciplines and geographic areas.

Current members[edit]

Terms expire May 10, 2024[edit]

Terms expire May 10, 2026[edit]

Terms expire May 10, 2028[edit]

NSF Director and ex officio Member[edit]

A list of former NSB members can be found here.

Work of the National Science Board[edit]

The Board has two overarching roles: 1) Provide oversight and policy guidance to the National Science Foundation; and 2) Serve as an advisor to Congress and the President on matters concerning science and engineering in the U.S.


Much of the background work of the National Science Board is done through its committees. By statute, the Board has an Executive Committee (EC),[4] which exercises such functions as are delegated to it by the Board, and such other committees as the Board deems necessary. As of January 2009, the Board has five other standing committees.[5]

Standing committees[edit]

  • Executive Committee (EC)
  • Committee on Oversight (CO)
  • Committee on External Engagement (EE)
  • Committee on Awards and Facilities (A&F)
  • Committee on National Science and Engineering Policy (SEP)
  • Committee on Strategy (CS)[6]

Subcommittees, task forces, and ad hoc committees[edit]

  • Subcommittee on Honorary Awards
  • Task Force on the Skilled Technical Workforce (STW)[6]
Archived committees[edit]
  • Audit and Oversight (A&O)
  • ad hoc Committee for Nominating NSB Class of 2018–2024 (NOMS)
  • ad hoc Committee for Nominating NSB Class of 2014–2020 (NOMS)
  • ad hoc Committee on Honorary Awards 2014 (AWD)
  • ad hoc Committee on Honorary Awards 2010 (AWD)
  • ad hoc Committee for Nominating NSB class of 2006–2012
  • ad hoc Committee for the Vannevar Bush Award
  • ad hoc Committee on Nominating for NSB Elections
  • ad hoc Committee on Nominating for NSB Elections (NOMCOM)
  • ad hoc Committee for Nominating NSB Class of 2016–2022 (NOMS)
  • ad hoc Committee for Nominating NSB Class of 2012–2018 (NOMS)
  • ad hoc Committee on Honorary Awards 2009
  • ad hoc Committee on the 2003 Vannevar Bush Committee
  • ad hoc Working Group on Administrative Burdens
  • Committee on Communication and Outreach
  • CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues (SOPI)
  • CSB Task Force on Data Policies (DP)
  • CPP Task Force on International Science
  • CPP Task Force on Hurricane Science and Engineering
  • CPP Task Force on Sustainable Energy
  • CPP Task Force on Transformative Research
  • CPP Task Force on Unsolicited Mid-Scale Research (MS)
  • CSB Subcommittee on Facilities (SCF)
  • CSB Task Force on Cost Sharing
  • Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)
  • Education and Human Resources (CEH)
  • EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators
  • Honorary Awards Committee (AWD)
  • Programs and Plans (CPP)
  • Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI)
  • Strategy and Budget (CSB)
  • Task Force on Administrative Burdens (AB)
  • Task Force for the NSF 60th Anniversary (60ANN)
  • Task Force on the Environment
  • Task Force on International Issues in Science and Engineering
  • Task Force on Merit Review (MR)
  • ad hoc Task Force on NEON Performance and Plans
  • Workshops on Engineering Education[6]

Science & Engineering Indicators (SEI)[edit]

One of the ways in which the National Science Board contributes to the U.S. science and engineering enterprise is with its biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report.[7] Mandated by Congress, this report is produced in collaboration with NSF's statistical center and provides comprehensive federal data on a wide range of measurements that show us how the U.S. is doing. These reports include information about K-12, international comparisons of investments in R&D, workforce trends and public attitudes and understanding about science. Indicators serves as a resource for a wide range of users that can include policymakers at all levels, educators, analysts, reporters, the broad scientific community, and the general public. NSB highlights particular themes it sees emerging from Indicators—such as the increasing global role that China and other Asian nations play in the S&T landscape—and talks with a wide range of stakeholders about these.

  • The most comprehensive source of high quality, policy neutral data on the U.S. and international S&E enterprise
  • NSB is required by law to provide to Congress & the President by January 15 of even numbered years
  • Under NSB guidance, Indicators is prepared by NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
  • Covers global R&D investments and knowledge-intensive production, K-12 and postsecondary STEM education, workforce trends and composition, state level comparisons, and public attitudes and understanding of science and related issues

SEI includes seven chapters that follow a generally consistent pattern; an eighth chapter, on state indicators, presented in a unique format; and an overview that precedes these eight chapters. The chapter titles are:

  1. Elementary and Secondary Education
  2. Higher Education in Science and Engineering
  3. Science and Engineering Labor Force
  4. Research and Development: National Trends and International Linkages
  5. Academic Research and Development
  6. Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace
  7. Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding
  8. State Indicators

An appendix volume, available online contains detailed data tables keyed to each of the eight chapters listed.

In 2006, the Board produced a pilot "digest" or condensed version of SEI comprising a small selection of important indicators. The Digest serves two purposes: (1) to draw attention to important trends and data points from across the chapters and volumes of SEI and (2) to introduce readers to the data resources available in the main volumes of SEI.

While the 2012 version of "Science and Engineering Indicators" notes this survey data and the survey problem, the NSB continues to minimize this data and does not draw attention to the unfavorable comparison to European and Japanese public understanding of these scientific issues.

A National Science Board policy statement, or "companion", authored by the Board, draws upon the data in SEI and offers recommendations on issues of concern for national science and engineering research or education policy, in keeping with the Board's statutory responsibility to bring attention to such issues.

Recent SEI Companions[edit]

  • 2004: An Emerging and Critical Problem of the Science and Engineering Labor Force
  • 2006: America's Pressing Challenge — Building a Stronger Foundation
  • 2008: Research and Development: Essential Foundation for U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Economy
  • 2010: Globalization of Science and Engineering Research
  • 2012a: Research & Development, Innovation, and the Science & Engineering Workforce
  • 2012b: Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities
Front Cover, STEM Innovators Report 2010
STEM education

The NSB has produced policy guidance in the area of STEM education for several decades. In 2007/2008 the NSB developed a national action plan for addressing the critical STEM education needs of our Nation while providing specific guidance for the role of NSF in the national STEM education enterprise (STEM Action Plan).

In January 2009, the NSB approved and transmitted a set of six recommendations to the Barack Obama Administration. These recommendations outline a series of steps to improve STEM education and foster innovation to ensure both scientific literacy among the public and ensure global competitiveness in the 21st century. From the STEM education recommendations:

The National Science Board (Board) recommends a set of actions for the new Administration to implement starting in early 2009 to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education for all American students, to nurture innovation, and to ensure the long-term economic prosperity of the Nation. The urgency of this task is underscored by the need to ensure that the United States continues to excel in science and technology in the 21st century. It must develop the ideas that could transform and strengthen the economy, ensure a skilled workforce for American industry, and guarantee that all American students are provided the educational resources and tools needed to participate fully in the science and technology based economy of the 21st century. The solutions we offer here are derived from studies by the Board over the past decade and reflect our continued commitment to a high quality STEM education system for America.[8]

Honorary Awards[edit]

Each year, the Board honors achievement and public service in science, engineering, and technology through its two honorary awards, the Vannevar Bush Award and the NSB Public Service Award.

Awards are presented during a ceremony held in Washington, DC. Several hundred members of the science and education communities—including White House, congressional, scientific society, higher education, and industry officials gather to celebrate the achievements of those awarded during this event.

The Vannevar Bush Award recognizes lifetime contributions to science and public service.

The NSB Public Service Award recognizes those who foster public understanding of science and engineering.

The Board opens nominations for its honorary awards from June to early October.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (42 U.S.C. Section 1863) SEC. 4.(j)(2)
  2. ^ 42 USC § 1861 – Establishment; composition | Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  3. ^ National Science Board – Members. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  4. ^ 42 USC § 1865 – Executive Committee | Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  5. ^ National Science Board – Committees. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  6. ^ a b c "National Science Board".
  7. ^ Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 – US National Science Foundation (NSF). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  8. ^ National Science Board STEM Education Recommendations to the new Administration

External links[edit]