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new nsf policy

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Mon May 18 01:44:10 EST 1992

In article <9205161718.AA02265 at dogwood.botany.uga.edu> russell at DOGWOOD.BOTANY.UGA.EDU writes:
>I'm appalled by the new NSF policy, and I'm also concerned about the
>choice of terms used by Mary Clutter in defending this policy.
>The goals of the various funding agencies must be to support the
>continuation of US Science, and, when there isn't enough money
>to support all worthy science, to try to identify and support the
>best science.

Operative phrase: worthy science.   :^)

>The new restriction of applications to only a single agency, in this
>case NSF, manifestly makes the lives of biological scientists much
>more difficult. 
I believe that you are saying that you took a job that requires you
to fund yourself :=) .....as opposed to a job with an organization (such
as in industry) which funds you according to their business plan.  When
you stop to think about it: your University has a business plan also
and probably gives you about as much say as you would have in industry,
except that _you_ are the funding point man. 

>                   All biologists who have been funded a number of 
>years have had the experience of having one agency rate a proposal
>with excellents, and another place it below funding.  This is the
>result of the luck of the draw in panel and external reviewers.

"luck"?  Or policy or mission differences? Or is this your coded wording
for "politics" and professional jealosies?  :^)

>The restriction policy forces biologists into a form of gamesmanship
>whereby one is forced to not only prepare the best proposal possible,
>but one is also forced to calculate application strategies in a new
>and painful way.                                              ^^^^^
I admit ignorance: would you expand on what you mean by "new painful way?"

>Why would any agency implement a strategy that is clearly a disservice
>to the community it is supposed to be supporting?

And yet, grantees who might become _more_ sucessful under the new
policy would have just the opposite view, wouldn't they?

>One possible answer is that this is purely inter-agency politics.

Wasn't the USDA Competitive Grants program begun precisely because
the new plant molecularists were turned away by NSF/NIH and told to get
their money from USDA? And didn't the traditional Aggies kick up a storm,
complaining how Competitive Grants was "stealing from them" and putting
"their money" into the hands of Harvard- and Yale-types in Biological
Sciences departments?  :=)

>Support for this lies in Dr. Clutter's use of the winning image.
>Scientists and science are not winning as a result of this new
>policy.  Proposal preparation and applications have suddenly become
>much more difficult.

Any break with the status quo makes life more difficult.......I'm
recalling a conversation I had with a top administrator at UMC
who used the phrase "swilling at the Public Trough too long" to 
to characterize the loss of intergrity of the US University System.
Come to think of it: in the matter of Dingle vs Kennedy (the US
Taxpayer vs Stanford U), Dingle thought Standford had become arrogant
through years of "swilling a the generous Public Trough" while
Kennedy thought of Stanford as a "struggling public hero."

>If NSF is somehow winning, it can only be doing so in the context
>of winning something in an inter-agency political squabble, that
>has lost sight of the overall goal of supporting the best research.
>Russell Malmberg
>russell at dogwood.botany.uga.edu

Needless to say: my opinions could not possibly reflect NCSU organizational
orthodoxy and are entirely of my own fabrication.  ;^)

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
|                 samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu                |
|                 [ either email address is read each day ]        |
|     By snail:   Crop Sci Dept, Box 7620, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695 |
         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.

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