The Current State of Broader Impacts

Each year, the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) seeks to understand the current state of broader impacts (BI) in the national context.

In 2017, NABI convened two forums to identify needs and solicit recommendations. The first event was a 90-minute town hall session with 120 participants facilitated by Jamie Bell at the April 2017 BI Summit.

The second event was a two-day convening facilitated by Goose Creek Consulting at NSF headquarters in May 2017 of stakeholder groups including university administrators (e.g., provosts, associate provosts, vice-presidents of research), university faculty, government officials (e.g., NSF program officers, congressional staffers), non-academic stakeholders (e.g., non-profit leaders, national organizational representatives), and BI professionals. Participants in these forums identified issues that inhibit innovative and successful BI outcomes and presented recommendations to address these barriers.

In addition, NSF’s Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) has conducted a two-year study of BI implementation to uncover trends across the Foundation and across directorates.

Results of the study have been presented at the last two BI Summits by Dr. Suzi Iacono, Office Head of OIA, and have been very informative.

Another useful source of information about the state of BI are the Committee of Visitors (COV) reports that NSF receives each year. NSF convenes external experts as a COV to provide feedback across the Foundation in two critical areas:

  1. Assessments of the quality and integrity of program operations and program-level technical and managerial matters pertaining to proposal decisions, and
  2. Comments on how the outputs and outcomes generated by awardees have contributed to the attainment of NSF’s mission and strategic outcome goals (NSF.gov, 2017).

Included in the reports are information on how the BI criterion is being applied across programs and directorates.