The United States National Academies comprises four organizations:
The National Academies serve (collectively) as the scientific national academy for the United States (US). The NAS, NAE, and IOM are honorary membership organizations, with a total membership of over 6,000 scientists, engineers, and health professionals. New members for each organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The NRC is the "working arm" of the Academies, which serves to collect, analyze, and share information through studies and reports.
The National Academies produce independent recommendations and policy reports by enlisting top scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts (not limited to those in Academies membership) to address the scientific and technical aspects of some of society's problems. These experts volunteer to serve on study committees that are convened to answer specific sets of questions. All committee members serve without pay.
The National Academies do not perform original research; rather they provide independent advice. Federal agencies are the primary financial sponsors of the Academies' work; additional studies are funded by state agencies, foundations, other private sponsors, and the National Academies endowment. The external sponsors have no control over the conduct or results of a study, once the statement of task and budget are finalized.
Study committees gather information from many sources in public meetings but deliberate in private in order to avoid political, special interest, and sponsor influence.
Through this study process, the National Academies produce around 200 reports each year. Recent reports cover such topics as addressing the obesity epidemic, the use of forensics in the courtroom, invasive plants, pollinator collapse, underage drinking, the Hubble Telescope, vaccine safety, the hydrogen economy, transportation safety, climate change, and homeland security. Many reports influence policy decisions; some are instrumental in enabling new research programs; others provide independent program reviews.
The US National Academy of Sciences was created by an Act of Incorporation in 1863, which was signed by the President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. Under this congressional charter, the National Research Council was created in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970.
The National Academies Press is the publisher for the National Academies, and makes its publications available for free online reading, as it has since 1994, the first self-sustaining book publisher to do so.
The National Academies also administer the Marian Koshland Science Museum.
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