Research Infrastructure Guide

Keywords nsf National Science Foundation research infrastructure research guide guide RIG
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A major responsibility of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the support of scientific facilities as an essential part of science and engineering enterprise. Facilities are defined as shared-use infrastructure, instrumentation and equipment that are accessible to a broad community of researchers and/or educators. These facilities are generally intended to serve the science community that is critical to supporting innovation across the nation. Facilities supported by NSF may be centralized or may consist of distributed-but-integrated installations. They may incorporate large-scale networking or computational infrastructure, multi-user instruments or networks of such instruments, or other infrastructure, instrumentation, and equipment having a major impact on a broad segment of a scientific or engineering discipline. Historically, NSF has supported such diverse projects as particle accelerators, telescopes, remote research stations, research vessels, aircraft, and geographically distributed but networked observatory systems.
In general, NSF does not directly construct or operate the facilities it supports. The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (“Organic Act,” Public Law 81-507) establishes that the “principal purpose” of NSF’s relationship with award Recipients is to fund and facilitate scientific and engineering research and education programs, and to appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and upon the general welfare. It states that NSF “shall not, itself, operate any laboratories or pilot plants”. NSF makes awards to external Recipients that include nonprofit organizations, universities, and private sector (industry) to undertake construction, management, and operation of facilities. Such awards frequently take the form of cooperative agreements but may also be made in the form of contracts.

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NSF 21-107
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