Subra Suresh has been an advocate of greater international scientific collaboration since becoming director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) 2 years ago. And a reshuffling of four programs within his office, announced today, reinforces that message.
Although the lion's share of NSF's $7 billion budget flows through its seven research and education directorates, whose heads report to Suresh, nine smaller programs also report directly to him. Under the new alignment, the offices of polar programs and cyberinfrastructure will be moved from the director's office and folded into discipline-based units at the foundation. International activities will remain under Suresh's purview, however, as part of a merger with a group that serves as NSF's new-ideas shop. The resulting Office of International and Integrative Activities (OIIA) will give both activities a higher profile.
The realignment, which will begin to take effect next month, is designed to lighten the director's managerial role, giving him more time to interact with outside communities and address big issues, says NSF's Judith Gan, who runs the agency's legislative and public affairs shop. But it's not a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. "As Dr. Suresh explained to staff, reporting to the director and having access to the director" are not mutually exclusive, Gan says.
Even so, the current head of NSF's international programs believes that the new alignment highlights the need for every NSF program manager to be thinking about how to expand their portfolio internationally. "When you have a boss who wants the agency to do more of what you are already trying to do, that's certainly a boost for the program," says David Stonner, who will become deputy to Wanda Ward within the new OIIA.
*Correction 10:31 a.m., 7 September: This item has been revised to reflect the total number of offices reporting to the NSF director.