Congress Exploring New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants
Having Congress trying to invent new criteria for judging NSF grants is concerning, but most especially because US Congressional representatives rarely have science or engineering backgrounds. Isn’t having Congress rethinking NSF reviewing criteria like having dancers reviewing farmer’s seeding practices, or having scientists working on water polo rules?
This idea was particularly well said in this letter from Eddie Bernice Johnson (thanks to Brian Dorn for pointing it out to me): “Interventions in grant awards by political figures with agenda, biases, and no expertise is the antithesis of the peer review process.”
In effect, the proposed bill would force NSF to adopt three criteria in judging every grant. Specifically, the draft would require the NSF director to post on NSF’s Web site, prior to any award, a declaration that certifies the research is:
1) “… in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
2) “… the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and
3) “… not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.”