NASA joins NSF research portal

National Science Foundation Web site aims to consolidate information on federally funded research

NASA has become the second agency to begin offering information about its federally funded research projects on the research.gov Web site launched last year by the National Science Foundation.

NSF intends for the site to become a governmentwide portal to make grant information more easily accessible to the public as well as the research community, said spokeswoman Maria C. Zacharias.

'Up to now, it has been done agency by agency,' Zacharias said. 'Government agencies in general are all being asked to make the information more useable by the public. We have taken the lead with this Web site.'

Until September, when NASA joined, NSF was alone on the site, but the goal from the start was to host information from other agencies across the government. The Army and an Agriculture Department agency have agreed to join the site, but no date has been set for adding their information.

Research.gov hosts detailed information on federally supported scientific research that is searchable in a number of ways. The information has been available in the past, but was intended primarily for institutions and individuals within the research community already seeking or using the grant programs. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act requires agencies to make the information more easily accessible to taxpayers as well, and 'they look for the information differently,' Zacharias said.

Grant recipients tend to look for specific research programs, and the general public is more likely to search by topical issues, geographic locations or other criteria.

The NSF site is searchable by agency, awardee, award amount and date, key word, and an advanced option supports searches by congressional district. Information can be reviewed online or exported in a variety of file formats, including XML and spreadsheets. Program information available includes names of principal investigators, abstracts of the research and citations for research papers generated by the work. There also is a policy library with links to statutes, regulations and policies on the research grants.

The site also allows institutions to track the status of grant applications and submit financial reports online. In the future, NSF intends to add features that would let researchers and reviewers maintain and update profiles in the system and enable program officers to manage grant portfolios, as well as submit standardized federal online research performance reports.

Although there is no mandate for agencies to consolidate this information on a single portal, NSF hopes that it will be used by a more of them.

'There is no technical limit to how many agencies can come on board,' Zacharias said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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