A proposed amendment to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “Endless Frontier Act” to reform the National Science Foundation (NSF) would require the government to disclose all costs of research projects funded by the agency.
The amendment to Schumer’s proposal, offered by Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, recognizes that the NSF has a checkered history of wasting millions of tax dollars on projects of highly questionable value. It would require grant recipients to make public the percentage of the total cost of a project that would use tax dollars, as well as the dollar amount receiving public funding in all official descriptions such as news releases, requests for proposals, and bid solicitations.
The NSF director would be able to withhold up to 25 percent of the funds to enforce compliance with the disclosure requirement.
Schumer’s bill would boost NSF’s funding from its present $8.5 billion annual budget by creating within it a new Directorate for Technology and Innovation that would receive $100 billion over the next five years.
“The goals of the directorate shall be, among other things, the strengthening of U.S. leadership in critical technologies through basic research in key technology focus areas, such as artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and advanced manufacturing, and the commercialization of those technologies to businesses in the United States,” according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
“The bill gives the NSF the authority to provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information within the United States concerning the NSF’s activities and the results of those activities.”
In addition, the Schumer proposal would dramatically increase NSF’s work in the areas of critical technologies in the national security sector of advanced technology research.
The proposal also directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop on an annual basis “a strategy for the federal government to improve national competitiveness in science, research, and innovation to support the national security strategy.”
In addition, the bill directs the Department of Commerce to “(1) establish a supply chain resiliency and crisis response program to address supply chain gaps and vulnerabilities in critical industries, (2) designate regional technology hubs to facilitate activities that support regional economic development that diffuses innovation around the United States, and (3) award grants to facilitate development and implementation of comprehensive regional technology strategies.”
In a statement on May 19, Ernst cited these examples of wasteful spending to justify her citing the NSF to receive her latest Squeal Award:
- How fast can a shrimp run on a treadmill? (66 feet per minute)
- Where does it hurt the most to be stung by a bee? (in the nostril)
- Which tastes better: water from a bottle or out of the toilet? (both scored about the same. … insane, right?)
- Does recycling make men seem less manly? (yes)
- How long does it take for a panda to poop? (about 12 seconds)
Ernst, who isn’t a co-sponsor of the Schumer proposal, while Hassan is, said in a statement made available to The Epoch Times that the purpose of the majority leader’s proposal “is a good one: to advance America’s global leadership in science and technology, specifically to beat Communist China.”
But the problem is, Ernst said, that “beating Red China requires more than just sending billions of dollars to an agency that has a long track record of wasting your money on silly, needless studies.”
“What we need to win is a clearly defined mission, with goals and—most importantly—leadership, along with the necessary financial support,” she said.
“Operation Warp Speed is a great example. Washington set a clear mission and provided the resources to our expert scientists and dedicated medical professionals who then went to work and developed multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time.”
Ernst was referring to Schumer’s claim that his bill “will enhance American competitiveness with China and other countries by investing in American innovation, building up regions across the country to lead in the innovation economy, creating good-paying American manufacturing and high-tech jobs, and strengthening America’s research, development, and manufacturing capabilities,” Schumer said in a statement.
“The Endless Frontier Act is the key to preserving America’s position on the world stage as a current and future technological leader in the 21st Century,” Schumer said.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the main Senate GOP co-sponsor of Schumer’s bill, said in the statement issued by the majority leader that he supports the proposal because “right now, the Chinese Communist Party is emphasizing to the world that the United States is a divided nation.”
“This is a rare opportunity to show the authoritarians in Beijing, and the rest of the world, that when it comes to our national security, and most importantly our China policy, we are united.”
Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be reached at email@example.com