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The National Science Board (Board) is required under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1863 (j) (1) to prepare and transmit the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators) report to the President and Congress every even-numbered year. The report is prepared by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within NSF under the guidance of the Board. It is subject to extensive review by Board members, outside experts, interested federal agencies, and NCSES internal reviewers for accuracy, coverage, and balance.

Indicators provides information on the state of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise over time and within a global context. Indicators is a factual and policy-neutral source of high-quality U.S. and international data; it does not offer policy options or make policy recommendations. The indicators presented in the report are quantitative representations relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the S&E enterprise.

With the 2020 edition, Indicators is being redesigned to be maximally useful and accessible to a wide audience while maintaining the high quality of previous editions. It is being transformed from a single, voluminous report into a series of streamlined reports. Indicators 2020 will consist of nine thematic reports produced and published beginning in the fall of 2019. In addition, The State of U.S. Science and Engineering, which highlights the key findings from the Indicators 2020 thematic reports, will be delivered to the President and Congress on 15 January 2020 in fulfillment of the congressional mandate.