July 27, 2011
The purpose of the July 25 hearing was to examine ways to streamline the process of evaluating the tens of thousands of grant applications submitted each year. In 2010, for example, NSF received more than 55,000 grant proposals, which were whittled down to 13,000. About half of the NSF's $7 billion budget was used for those grants, as well as continuing grants approved in previous years, according to the subcommittee's charter for Tuesday's hearing.
The foundation and other federal agencies that support scientific research have a lot of money at stake when evaluating proposals, so a great deal of time and money goes into evaluation efforts. After being submitted to the NSF, grant proposals go through a peer review process, drawing on a community of more than 300,000 researchers to review the projects via mail correspondence and discussion panels.