NSF Updates Transparency and Accountability Practices

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced revisions to its guidelines for program officers and principle investigators (PIs) intended to better communicate the value of the research it funds. According to an NSF press release, language added to the guidelines for program officers require that non-technical project descriptions “serve as a public justification for NSF funding by articulating how the project serves the national interest, as stated by NSF’s mission: to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; or to secure the national defense.” Training and guidelines will also assist program staff in writing award abstracts and titles that better reflect the significance of funded projects.

On December 26, NSF will update its Policies and Procedures Guide for PIs to explain that staff may contact successful applicants for assistance with preparing the award abstract and title, “an NSF document that describes the project and justifies the expenditure of Federal funds.” NSF will also provide regular updates on its Transparency and Accountability webpage. In a statement, House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who has been a vocal critic of NSF’s funding decisions, said he was “encouraged” by NSF’s actions, calling them a “step in the right direction.”

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