Weigh in on NSF’s next strategic plan

By Elise Lipkowitz, Science Policy Analyst for the National Science Board Office


national science foundation nsf1It’s time again for the National Science Foundation (NSF, Foundation) to revise its Strategic Plan.   As part of this process, the Foundation is looking for feedback from the science community on NSF’s current strategic plan (FY 2014-2018) and input on possible future strategic goals for the agency. If you have suggestions, please submit your comments before September 27, 2016.

The NSF Act of 1950 sets forth the agency’s mission: to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.”  The Strategic Plan expands upon this with a statement of NSF’s vision, core values, strategic goals, objectives, strategies and approaches.  The next plan will cover the period from FY 2018 through FY 2022.

The Government Performance and Results Act Modernization (GPRA) Act of 2010 governs how NSF and other federal agencies develop their strategic plans, which differ significantly from those of universities and professional societies and associations.

The GPRA Modernization Act spells out both the timing (production of a four-year strategic plan by the first Monday in February of the year that follows the start of a new Presidential term) and the report’s structure, which includes discussion of the agency’s mission, values, and strategic goals. The strategic plan presents long-term agency objectives, strategies to meet those objectives, and outlines how the agency will monitor progress toward those objectives.

Federal agency strategic plans aim to:

  • Publicly communicate a vision for the agency
  • Guide internal decision making, planning, and allocation of resources
  • Stimulate innovation to advance agency goals
  • Provide a framework to pursue annual priorities

The science community can help NSF develop its strategic plan by:

  • Identifying the emerging science and policy issues that provide the context in which NSF operates; this input should be at the highest level and transcend any given discipline
  • Offering feedback on the Vision, Core Values, Strategic Goals, and Strategic Objectives as outlined in the current strategic plan.