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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science

William J. Broad, New York Times
March 19, 2014

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise. In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research. The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation.  Read more

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

House GOP Allows Some Compromise in Bid to Focus NSF on Economic Value

March 13, 2014
Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education

A Congressional panel on Thursday approved legislation that would flatten the budget of the National Science Foundation and revive past attempts to tie the agency’s spending on research to a definable economic payback.
The measure, a policy-setting bill for the NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, would give the NSF a budget in the 2015 fiscal year of $7.28-billion, about 1.5 percent beyond its current level of $7.17-billion. President Obama, in his 2015 budget proposed this month, suggested $7.3-billion, while House Democrats are seeking $7.52-billion.
Yet in a sign of future compromise before the bill reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Republican majority on the House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology accepted nine separate Democratic amendments, including a partial retreat from plans to severely cut the NSF’s budget for social-science research.  Read more