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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine
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Program Sponsors


A Need for Independent Advice

Charles Bolden The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are trusted and valuable resources for independent, expert advice -- not only for Congress and the federal government, but also for state and local government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, and others. Those who request a study depend upon our reputation for independence and unique ability to bring together leading experts, weigh the evidence, and produce reports that inform sound policies and educate the public.

Read or download thousands of our reports online at the National Academies Press.

Working With Us

Tom Harkin Government agencies may need independent reviews of their programs or guidance on future research efforts. Congress or the administration may want an assessment of the latest scientific evidence before making policy decisions. Nongovernmental organizations or nonprofits may want to raise awareness about the science behind certain issues. Other sponsors provide fundamental support for ongoing activities.

Although we are best known for our consensus studies, sponsors may choose to support a variety of projects or activities to meet their needs. They include:

  • workshops that bring together leading experts and interested parties to examine issues in depth
  • roundtables and standing committees that meet regularly and provide ongoing guidance on particular subjects
  • cooperative research programs, through which government agencies and other potential users of research have a direct role in the types of projects selected for study
  • fellowship programs aimed at promoting innovative study across disciplines; boosting professional growth; and developing understanding of science policy, and
  • awards to recognize outstanding achievement in science, engineering, and medicine 

Initiating a Study or Activity

Sponsors interested in working with us should contact the staff of one of our program units.

Members of Congress and their staff should contact our Office of Congressional and Government Affairs.

Philanthropies and individuals interested in supporting our work should contact our Office of Development.

Before a contract or grant is finalized, staff and board members work with the sponsor to determine the specific set of questions to be addressed. A formal "statement of task" is developed that defines the scope of the study and serves as the basis for determining the expertise and the balance of perspectives needed on the study committee.

When the staff and sponsor have come to a general agreement, staff prepares a prospectus for approval by the Executive Committee of the National Research Council Governing Board. This step ensures the appropriateness of the topic and the scope of the study before a formal proposal is sent to the sponsor.

Our Study Process

Our consensus studies adhere to rigorous standards designed to guarantee objectivity. Once a project is funded, we seek nominations for members of committees or other program activities from many sources, including the sponsors. However, the president of the National Academy of Sciences (who also serves as chair of the National Research Council) has the final authority for approving all members of study committees.

Read more about the study process.

Committees, whose members must meet the requirements of our conflict-of-interest policy, work independently of sponsors to complete the studies. The resulting reports undergo an external review by a second panel of experts whose comments are provided anonymously to the committee members.

Funding Choices

Several funding options are available to sponsors. These include contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and purchase orders. A project may have one or several sponsors. Studies typically take from six to 18 months to complete, although some urgent studies may be completed in a shorter time and some broader or more complex studies take a longer time.

Federal sponsors interested in having the Academies conduct a study can obtain their services on a sole source basis because of their unique origins and status. The Academies do not compete for federal contracts. Grants, contracts, and gifts from states, foundations, individuals, and other sources also enable us to address critical issues on behalf of the nation.

For more information, contact our Office of Contracts and Grants at 202-334-2254.