A National Science Board task force has recommended three broad principles for evaluating NSF proposals. These recommendations are based on an NSB report released in December 2011 on NSF's merit review criteria, and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, granting reauthorization to NSF.
All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These “Broader Impacts” may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the projects.
Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF-funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated level than the individual project.
Read more about the implementation of the NSB-approved merit review criteria.