After much congressional scrutiny about the release of information related to grants, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a new approach to transparency. The agency will now include in award abstracts a non-technical description of the research and an explanation of the project’s significance as it relates to the nation’s interests.

“Good stewardship of public resources requires ongoing examination of our processes and continuous improvement,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “We will continue to convey the significance of our science and engineering research in supporting the national interest. To do this we must clearly communicate our funding rationale publicly.”

NSF program staff will be offered training for writing award abstracts and titles, in order to meet the new policy.

Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), who has used his position as chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to criticize transparency at NSF, called the new policy encouraging. “For more than a year, I have been calling for the NSF to provide public explanations for how NSF research grants are in the national interest and worthy of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars,” said Smith. “The NSF’s new policy is a step in the right direction. Congress and taxpayers will be eager to see how the new NSF national interest criterion is implemented.”


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