SfN Joins 110 Organizations in Support of NSF Peer Review Process
On April 25, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) the chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee requested copies of confidential scientific reviews for five NSF-funded grants expressing concern about “how closely they adhere to NSF's 'intellectual merit' guideline.” Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) defended NSF in her response stating Rep. Smith’s request sets a dangerous precedent of Congress second-guessing peer review. On May 15, NSF denied Rep. Smith’s request and defended the need to preserve the confidentiality of its selection process, but offered to brief the committee on how NSF selects which grants to fund.
Rep. Smith also released draft legislation to require the NSF Director certify that every funded project is 1) in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense; 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. Consideration of the bill, originally scheduled for early May, has been postponed. SfN has joined 110 organizations on a letter organized by the Coalition for National Science Funding expressing concern over the legislation.