Federal

NSF’s Peer-Review Process on GOP Radar

By Sarah D. Sparks — May 14, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Congressional Republicans are broadening attempts to exert more control over the peer-review process for the National Science Foundation, in a move that could chill research into politically controversial education topics.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar S. Smith, R-Texas, last month began circulating a draft bill that would change the grant-review process at the National Science Foundation.

The bill, called the “High Quality Research Act” in a draft obtained by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s ScienceInsider, would require the NSF to certify, on an online website, that any grant-funded research is advancing national health, prosperity, or welfare; not duplicating other federal research; and “is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large.”

At the same time, in a letter to acting NSF Director Cora B. Marrett, Rep. Smith said he had “concerns” about the “intellectual merit” of five grants and asked for peer-review and program-officer notes on their approval.

The moves provoked backlash from science advocates and congressional Democrats.

“By making this request, you are sending a chilling message to the entire scientific community that peer review may always be trumped by political review,” wrote Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, also of Texas, in a letter to the chairman.

The squabble carries high stakes for education. In the fiscal 2013 budget, the National Science Foundation’s budget for science, technology, education, and mathematics education alone is more than $1.15 billion. By contrast, the federal Education Department’s research agency, the Institute of Education Sciences, had $597.3 million to spend on education research this fiscal year.

The MSF declined to comment on the debate.

For his part, Rep. Smith issued a statement saying the draft came from “bipartisan discussions” and the bill “maintains the current peer-review process and improves on it by adding a layer of accountability ... to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on the highest-quality research possible.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 15, 2013 edition of Education Week as NSF Peer Review on GOP’s Radar

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Q&A Boosting 'Pathetically Low' Teacher Pay Is Top of Mind for Bernie Sanders
The progressive senator from Vermont spoke with Education Week as he prepares to chair the Senate's education committee.
6 min read
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, in late January.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal What’s Behind the Push for a $60K Base Teacher Salary
When reintroduced in Congress, a bill to raise teacher salaries will include money to account for regional cost differences.
5 min read
Teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Seattle. The first day of classes at Seattle Public Schools was cancelled and teachers are on strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students.
Teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Seattle. The first day of classes at Seattle Public Schools was cancelled and teachers are on strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students.
Jason Redmond/AP
Federal Teachers Shouldn't Have to Drive Ubers on the Side, Education Secretary Says
In a speech on priorities for the year, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said teachers should be paid competitive salaries.
5 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal A Chaotic Start to a New Congress: What Educators Need to Know
A new slate of lawmakers will have the chance to influence federal education policy in the 118th Congress.
4 min read
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the House floor after the first vote for House Speaker when he did not receive enough votes to be elected during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3 following the first round of voting for House Speaker. McCarthy fell short of enough votes to be elected speaker in three rounds of voting on opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Andrew Harnik/AP