In DepthU.S. Policy

Congress, NSF spar on access to grant files

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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 152-153
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.152

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Summary

Staffers on the U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF) spent hours this summer poring over confidential material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Their visits were an unprecedented—and some say bizarre—intrusion into the much admired process used for more than 60 years to award research grants. NSF officials gave grudging permission for the committee to read grant applications, reviewer comments, and all correspondence between grantees and program managers. The re-reviews are part of an 18-month effort by the chair of the House science committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), to collect evidence that the $7 billion research agency is wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous or low-priority projects, particularly in the social sciences. And there's no end in sight.

  • * With reporting by David Shultz.