News & AnalysisU.S. Science Policy

Ending Earmarks Also Means the End Of Many Research Projects

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Science  11 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6018, pp. 661
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6018.661

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The last pillar supporting congressional earmarks crumbled last week, dooming the controversial practice for at least the next 2 years. Many scientists approve; they argue that earmarking reduces the amount of money available for peer-reviewed competitive research by forcing agencies to pay for things they did not request. But ending earmarks won't be painless; they pumped $2 billion into university facilities and research activities last year. Turning off the spigot will have a dramatic impact on the scientists who receive the money and perhaps also on the societal problems they are tackling.