Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Columbia U. to Pay $9-Million to Settle Federal Claims Over AIDS Grants

Andrew Mytelka, Chronicle of Higher Education 
October 29, 2014
 
Columbia University has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay $9-million to settle a federal lawsuit accusing it of mismanaging federal grants for AIDS research, reports Capital, an online news service covering New York.

According to the office of the federal prosecutor that handled the case, the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, a unit of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, filed claims for reimbursement citing work that was not done. Columbia received millions of dollars under more than 75 federal grants to prevent AIDS and HIV, but it was required to track the work of employees and submit that tally in order to obtain the grant money.  Read more
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

NSF-Backed Scientists Raise Alarm Over Deepening Congressional Inquiry

Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education
October 16, 2014

Two years into the latest round of attacks by Congressional Republicans on federally sponsored research, an escalating effort by the House science committee to find fault with the National Science Foundation is taking a growing toll on researchers.
NSF grants to some 50 professors across the country are now being investigated by the Republican-controlled committee. More than a dozen of the researchers, in comments to The Chronicle, said they had little idea what the politicians were seeking, but warned of a dangerous precedent in what they described as a witch hunt.  Read more

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund

HKS Research Administration Office
July 16, 2014 

Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund will begin accepting proposals from Harvard University faculty (and students with confirmed faculty mentors) that shape progress toward a sustainable future. Research proposals are encouraged from applicants in the sciences, as well as those who are experts in public policy, law, business, economics, and other relevant domains. For more information, please visit the kink below, and please see President Faust’s announcement letter about the program. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Important Notice to Presidents of Universities and Colleges and Heads of Other National Science Foundation Awardee Organizations: NSF Abstracts and Titles

Since the issuance of the December 11, 2013 Important Notice to the Community (IN-135) that announced our focus on transparency and accountability, we have developed and are now implementing an approach for addressing the two primary areas of the initiative.

1. The first is improving public understanding of our funding decisions through our award Abstracts and Titles

2. The second is ensuring that the broad areas of supported research (or portfolios) are aligned to the national interest, as defined by NSF’s mission, “…to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; to secure the national defense…”

In this notice, I want to clarify the NSF policy on award Abstracts and Titles. We are acting to ensure that our award Abstracts and Titles clearly convey to the public justification for our actions.


Read more (pdf)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Excessive Regulations Turning Scientists into Bureaucrats

National Science Foundation
May 1, 2014

Excessive regulations are consuming scientists' time and wasting taxpayer dollars, says a report released today by the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation and advisor to Congress and the President.

"Regulation and oversight of research are needed to ensure accountability, transparency and safety," said Arthur Bienenstock, chair of the NSB task force that examined the issue. "But excessive and ineffective requirements take scientists away from the bench unnecessarily and divert taxpayer dollars from research to superfluous grant administration. This is a real problem, particularly in the current budget climate."

Thousands of federally funded scientists responded to NSB's request to identify requirements they believe unnecessarily increase their administrative workload. The responses raised concerns related to financial management, grant proposal preparation, reporting, personnel management, and institutional review boards and animal care and use committees (IRBs and IACUCs).   Read more

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NSF’s Board Fights Back Against Threat of Tighter Legislative Control

Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education
April 24, 2014

The governing board of the National Science Foundation spoke out on Thursday against a Congressional proposal to limit its grant-writing authority, saying the changes would needlessly hinder scientific research.
The National Science Board, in a rare public response to a piece of pending legislation, said in a written statement that it saw no need for a plan to give Congress division-by-division authority over its budget allocations. In rejecting the idea, the board also promised stepped-up internal oversight of transparency and accountability processes at the NSF.
The dispute concerns a bill, known as the First Act, that would set policy rules and authorize two years of budget levels for the NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The House science committee is expected to vote soon on a version of the bill, after a subcommittee approved it last month.  Read more

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don’t Rob the Social Sciences of Peer Review and Public Dollars

March 31, 2014
Editorial by Edward Liebow, Chronicle of Higher Education

Legislation making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives would significantly reduce National Science Foundation funds for the social sciences and interfere with the agency’s peer-­review process. The alarming proposal, known as the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2014, or FIRST Act, threatens to dismantle social- and behavioral-science research in the United States.

Under the bill, Congress would, for the first time, fund each individual directorate in the NSF rather than the agency as a whole. As proposed, every directorate would see its budget increase or stay essentially flat, with the exception of the directorates for social, behavioral, and economic sciences and for international and integrative activities. Those directorates would experience a 25-percent and a 17-percent decrease, respectively.  

Read more