Federal Funding of Basic Research: The Red Tape Mill

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Science  08 May 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4495, pp. 636-641
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4495.636


Federal regulations and concerns about accountability for public funds have added greatly to the administrative burden associated with federal support of research at universities. Much of the added burden is viewed as unnecessary and counterproductive by the scientists and administrators who must bear the load. They feel that funds and effort intended for research are being diverted and wasted. The various types of costs are reviewed, including some thoughts as to their origin and estimates of their magnitude. Topics covered include project versus programmatic support, the indirect cost game, accountability, federal regulations, and the bureaucratic syndrome. There are no simple solutions, but several promising initiatives have been taken and more should be forthcoming.