The new chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee has drafted legislation that would change the criteria under which the National Science Foundation awards grants, Science reported. Traditionally, peer review panels have had considerable latitude within their subject areas. But the draft legislation by Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, would require that all grants adhere to three criteria. Grants would have to be certified by the NSF director to be:
- "In the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science."
- "Groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large."
- "Not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies."
The draft is circulating at a time that many science officials believe Republicans in Congress are trying to undercut the traditional peer review system.
Smith released a statement saying the legislation had been misrepresented.