U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants

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The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress.


For good measure, it would also set in motion a process to determine whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency.

The legislation, being worked up by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), represents the latest—and bluntest—attack on NSF by congressional Republicans seeking to halt what they believe is frivolous and wasteful research being funded in the social sciences. Last month, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) successfully attached language to a 2013 spending bill that prohibits NSF from funding any political science research for the rest of the fiscal year unless its director certifies that it pertains to economic development or national security. Smith's draft bill, called the "High Quality Research Act," would apply similar language to NSF's entire research portfolio across all the disciplines that it supports.

ScienceInsider has obtained a copy of the legislation, labeled "Discussion Draft" and dated 18 April, which has begun to circulate among members of Congress and science lobbyists. In effect, the proposed bill would force NSF to adopt three criteria in judging every grant.

Written By: Jeffrey Mervis
continue to source article at news.sciencemag.org

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  1. Strange indeed.

    The US is the most scientifically advanced country in the world in terms of quality research taking place there. It has been for a long time, and this has led to much of the economic development of the last century.

    Yet instead of celebrating this, it seems many of the countries political leaders want to kill it.

    They may well succeed in the end. A country which has an anti-science culture led by politicians in denial about much of the fundamentals of science will not stay on top forever.

    • I could not have put it better myself. Isn’t it truly sad to see a country throw away what should make it great in favor of beliefs that have never made a place better?In reply to #5 by Ramases:

      Strange indeed.

      The US is the most scientifically advanced country in the world in terms of quality research taking place there. It has been for a long time, and this has led to much of the economic development of the last century.

      Yet instead of celebrating this, it seems many of the countries po…

    • In reply to #5 by Ramases:

      Strange indeed.

      The US is the most scientifically advanced country in the world in terms of quality research taking place there. It has been for a long time, and this has led to much of the economic development of the last century.

      BUT:- A lot of the leading scientists, engineers and patents, have been bought in from overseas!

  2. How in blue blazes do these kinds of Republican politicians keep getting positions on science committees? Why can’t this be changed? In any other professional arena, an employee with not just no qualifications to perform a directorial/evaluative role over content X but downright ideological (either political, social, intellectual, or religious – whatever the case may be) antagonism to content X would be immediately dismissed. What makes the U.S. political workforce so different? It’s absurd and clearly dysfunctional.

    • In reply to #7 by ArmchairCat:

      How in blue blazes do these kinds of Republican politicians keep getting positions on science committees? Why can’t this be changed? In any other professional arena, an employee with not just no qualifications to perform a directorial/evaluative role over content X but downright ideological (either…

      It’s not just the US, Canada’s Minister of Science is an evolution denier. Absolutely as contradictory a person one could dread in the position. It is because Harper is a moron.

  3. .congressional Republicans seeking to halt what they believe is frivolous and wasteful research being funded in the social sciences.

    those same social sciences that highlight the moral bankruptcy of the modern republican party?

  4. The legislation, being worked up by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), represents the latest—and bluntest—attack on NSF by congressional Republicans seeking to halt what they believe is frivolous and wasteful research being funded in the social sciences.

    Clever people these Republican legislators!! They can (allegedly) tell the outcome, quality, and value of research before it has been conducted!!

    Or….. could it be be they are just too stupid, and too fond of circular thinking, to recognise their own limitations?

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