Can NSF become a model for paperless government?

The National Science Foundation is ramping up to become a model agency for using paperless, electronic offices, according to the agency's director.

In testimony Wednesday before the House Science Committee's Basic Research Subcommittee, NSF director Rita Colwell said the agency hopes during the next year to receive 95 percent of all research proposals electronically. NSF provides grants to universities and other academic institutions to perform research in science, engineering and technology.

The administration proposed a record increase for NSF in 2001 that would bring the agency's budget to $4.6 billion. However, even if the increase is approved, it will not be enough to handle all the proposals NSF receives each year, officials said.

NSF is currently updating its computer and telephone systems to make the submission of proposals more efficient, Colwell said.

NSF's 2000-2005 Government Performance and Results Act Strategic Plan outlines the agency's desire to use emerging technologies for business applications. The agency plans to deploy a system for handling electronic proposal receipt, review, processing and awarding as well as a high-quality communications infrastructure and state-of-the-art technological tools to enhance organizational productivity, according to the plan.

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