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U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview

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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 82.6% ($3,174.9 million) of NSF's FY2005 $3,844.2 million research and development (R&D) budget was awarded to U.S. colleges and universities.1 Preliminary data reveal that for FY2005 the NSF provided approximately 60.3% of all federally funded basic research conducted at the nation's colleges and universities, with the exclusion of biomedical research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition, NSF provides more than 30% of the total federal support for science and mathematics education. This report will be updated periodically.