Chair of House Science Committee Proposes Bill to Set Aside Peer Review – Tyrone Spady
Created by on 5/2/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last week, Lamar Smith (TX-21), Chairman of House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the Congressional body charged with oversight of the National Science Foundation (NSF), circulated draft legislation titled the “High Quality Research Act.” Smith’s proposal would mandate the public certification by the NSF Director that each NSF grant or contract adheres to the following criteria:

• is 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;

• is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and

• is not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.

Further, the bill calls on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to report on how these changes could be implemented at other federal science agencies.

In response to the proposed legislation and an April 25 letter from Chairman Smith to NSF requesting justifications for five competitively funded proposals, Ranking Member of the House Science Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, issued a rebuttal in support of NSF and the roll of peer review in the federal government’s competitive grant-making process. (See FASEB’s thank-you letter to Rep. Johnson here.)

President Obama has also made a statement, voicing his intent to “keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process.” The following day, Chairman Smith issued a statement reaffirming Congress’s right to ensure “that taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly.”

FASEB continues to follow this issue closely and is in the process of developing a position statement.