News of the WeekU.S. Science Policy

NSF Turns Math Earmark on Its Ear to Fund New Institute

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Science  27 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5995, pp. 1006-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5995.1006-b

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When Congress tells a federal agency to spend money on a particular project not in its budget request—a process called earmarking—the agency generally has little choice but to comply. The National Science Foundation (NSF), however, has quietly folded one recent earmark into a competitive grants program, eliminating what seemed to be one state's advantage. Even more surprisingly, NSF apparently has done it without incurring the wrath of that state's senior legislator: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV), the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate.