News & CommentNational Science Foundation

Revolving Door Brings in Scientists--at a Price

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Science  12 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5332, pp. 1599-1600
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5332.1599

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A little-known program that allows the government to tap into the country's intellectual capital has helped NSF and other federal research agencies attract the specialized talent they need, and taught thousands of faculty members about the ways of Washington. But the Intergovernmental Personnel Act also extracts a price: The money for salaries and benefits comes out of funds allocated for research grants, reducing the total available for bench science, and its rules are a ripe target for abuse. As a result, Congress is beginning to pay attention to the program and has asked NSF for a full accounting of its costs.