Analysis of US National Science Foundation Awards for Scientific Computing Equipment (SCE), 2013-19

Mark Dietrich; Andrew A Chien. 8 July, 2020.
Communicated by Andrew Chien.


This document quantifies the scientific computing equipment (SCE) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) between 2013 and 2019. The focus is primarily on the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) and other CISE Directorate Programs.

Based on a review of financial reporting and searches of its award database, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $61 million per year in the purchase or operation of large scale scientific computing equipment (SCE) intended for use by researchers across the US, plus an additional $18 million per year in the purchase of smaller SCE systems intended for use by researchers at just one or a few institutions. This indicates the NSF’s total investment in SCE is approximately $79 million per year.

Note that this total NSF investment is only a fraction of the total investment in SCE by the academic research community. Other funding for academic SCE include institutional funds, state governments, other government agencies (e.g. NIH), and private funders.. Based on a sample (n=22) of leading institutions that operate scientific computing equipment (the Coalition for Advanced Scientific Computing, CASC), suggest the NSF contributions may account for approximately 30%, which implies a total annual investment by academic institutions in scientific computing equipment of $260 million per year.

Original Document

The original document is available in PDF (uploaded 8 July, 2020 by Andrew Chien).