Abstract: High-quality economic development is currently in urgent need of the supply and support from high-level basic research. The demand-driven and application-oriented frontier breakthrough basic research to meet national strategic needs is of increasingly highlighted significance, and has become the key to addressing China's ‘bottle-neck' core technology challenges. How to establish and improve the science funds management system for frontier breakthrough basic research has become the main contradictions facing China's current science advances. From a theoretical perspective, former related studies on basic research project management mainly focus on project selection and performance evaluation. Although these studies can help scholars understand the construction of basic research funds management system, there are still two research gaps remained. First, current studies focus more on pre-topic selection mechanism and post-event performance evaluation, lacking a systematic discussion on the whole process management of basic research projects. Second, the existing exploration of basic research management is more based on interest-oriented basic research, and the exploration of frontier breakthrough basic research management is insufficient. Moreover, from a practical perspective, the management mechanism, evaluation system and performance management system of the National Natural Science Foundation of China(NSFC) are not yet mature, especially the project management system for frontier breakthrough basic research relatively lagging behind. Therefore, it is necessary to reform the current management system of basic research projects in China to achieve breakthroughs in frontier basic research in key areas, to promote breakthroughs in frontier technology in China, and provide high-quality scientific and technological supply for national economic and social development. Based on the status quo of project management of the NSFC, this article systematically expounds the theoretical research related to the management of basic research funds at home and abroad, and comprehensively summarizes the international experience in basic research project management of the National Institutes of Health, the National Natural Science Foundation of the United States and the National Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Following the management perspective of the project life cycle, this article proposes to establish a cross-integration and strategically demand-oriented frontier breakthrough basic research project topic selection mechanism; the value-oriented project review mechanism combined with review experts' reputation; and the project evaluation mechanism combined with stage performance and result quality. The research results show that:(1) The topics of frontier breakthrough basic research must focus on the major strategic needs of China's economic and social development, as well as the basic theoretical issues behind the development problems, following the principles of promoting interdisciplinary integration, highlighting disruptive innovation, organized innovation, and combining top-down and bottom-up organizations.(2) In order to address the shortcomings of peer review in project appraisal and increase the fundings for frontier breakthrough basic research, the NSFC should highlight the value orientation of review work and explore the establishment of a ‘responsible, credible, and countable'(RCC) review mechanism.(3) The evaluation of frontier breakthrough basic research projects is an important part in the project life cycle. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the decision-making and management level of frontier breakthrough basic research projects by setting process nodes and target events, establishing a dynamic evaluation and adjustment mechanism, and highlighting high-quality characteristics of the project results.
Keyword：frontier breakthrough basic research; National Natural Science Foundation; the whole process of science funds