U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview [January 6, 2012]   [open pdf - 282KB]

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) was created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (P.L.81-507). The NSF has the broad mission of supporting science and engineering in general and funding basic research across many disciplines. The agency provides support for investigator-initiated, merit-reviewed, competitively selected awards, state-of-the-art tools, and instrumentation and facilities. The majority of the research supported by the NSF is conducted at U.S. colleges and universities. Approximately 82.3% ($3,900.6 million) of NSF's estimated FY2009 [Fiscal Year] $4,742.0 million research and development (R&D) budget was awarded to U.S. colleges and universities. On November 18, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Appropriations Act, FY2012, P.L. 112-55. The law provides, among other things, funding for the NSF. The law provides a total of $7,033.1 million for the NSF in FY2012, $733.9 million below the Administration's request, and $173.2 million above the FY2011 enacted level. The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account is funded at $5,719.0 million in FY2012, $534.5 million below the requested level and $155.1 million above the FY2011 enacted level. R&RA funds research projects, research facilities, and education and training activities. R&RA is also a source of funding for the acquisition and development of research instrumentation at U.S. colleges and universities, disaster research teams, Partnerships for Innovation, and the Science and Technology Policy Institute. In addition, the law provides $829.0 million for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) directorate and $167.1 million for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) in FY2012."

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CRS Report for Congress, 95-307
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