News of the WeekU.S. Science Budget

Senator Builds His Legacy With University of Alabama Earmarks

Science  20 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5994, pp. 893
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5994.893

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Summary

Using his position as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R–AL) has single-handedly implemented an ersatz federal academic infrastructure program for the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, campus over the past decade. Although most science policymakers believe earmarks weaken U.S. science by placing the preferences of individual lawmakers above those of the peer-review process, politicians have used them to benefit thousands of institutions in their home states. Earmarking is a sensitive topic for many universities, which support peer review but like federal funding, too. Shelby says the earmarks he has secured for several of the state's universities have been good for Alabama's economy and its scientists.