News & AnalysisU.S. Science Policy

Lawmakers Await NSF's Response to Query About Grants

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Science  17 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6134, pp. 801
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6134.801

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Summary

Fifty-seven words from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the chairman of the House of Representatives science committee, have created a firestorm within the U.S. scientific community and provoked a clash with an influential member of Congress. Smith has asked the National Science Foundation (NSF) to justify the agency's funding of five recent research grants in the social sciences. Three former NSF directors and three past leaders of the agency's oversight board asked Smith to rescind his letter and drop the draft legislation, while 18 former top NSF officials described the request as setting "a very dangerous precedent." University presidents and leaders of several scientific organizations also gave an earful to a science committee aide during a testy meeting in Washington. Now this week, that confrontation could come to a head when acting NSF Director Cora Marrett responds.