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  The Scientist has an article reporting that the stimulus money that went to fund science is entangled with serious red tape. Bob Grant reports that the billions in new funding comes with strings attached.

"...the money, it turns out, comes with strings attached: keeping up with ARRA's administrative requirements is costing institutions thousands in increased overhead and may be compromising or delaying other initiatives and projects at the nation's leading research universities. "

Horrors! The Government is strangling science by giving it money! But seriously, while the reporting requirements seem excessive, there are those for whom they are both a bug AND and a feature. Plus, the narrative they've crafted is still distorting the debate.

(more)

I'm taking the liberty of cross-posting the comment I left over at The Scientist here as well. The article is worth reading, both because of the reporting on stimulus money going to support research, and because of the way (in my opinion at least) it illustrates how the conservative message machine colors reporting. Here's the comment I submitted for posting. (Note: The Scientist may ask for a free registration to view some materials.)

This is a good story - as far as it goes. But science does not take place in a vacuum (metaphorically speaking.)

One, at a time when all funding is tight - not just from the federal government - is it really surprising that following the money has suddenly gotten a higher priority? The emphasis here is on the stimulus of course, but I'd wager every other source of funding is paying a lot more attention these days. Maybe they are not all asking for quarterly reports, but what reports do get handed in are probably getting scrutinized very closely.

Two, there's several casual assertions in comments that this is all about bragging rights for free spending politicians. And let's be fair; any politician who has managed to get a project funded is going to want some credit for it. While carping at the Democrats is easy on this, there are a lot of Republican bald-faced hypocrites who screamed about deficits, voted against the stimulus - and then ran home to get their pictures taken at projects funded with stimulus money. Would that they were getting the same critical examination for their actions that scientists are being forced to endure. Which leads into ....

Three, it's all about the framing. This story has a lot of conservative bias built into it - but that's not surprising because the themes playing out here have been pounded into the public consciousness for decades. Let's start deconstructing the narrative a bit. Take the first paragraph to start.

"When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) doled out $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion to the National Science Foundation last year, many hailed it as a triumph for the US research enterprise. But the money, it turns out, comes with strings attached: keeping up with ARRA's administrative requirements is costing institutions thousands in increased overhead and may be compromising or delaying other initiatives and projects at the nation's leading research universities."

Start with orders of magnitude: the concern about thousands of dollars in extra costs out of billions of dollars of new funding. While it may vary from project to project, that's roughly a fraction of a penny for every new dollar of funding. And that's a problem? Seriously?

Other projects and initiatives may be held up because of the strain of meeting the requirements. True - but a lot of new work is going to get accomplished as well. This is more a problem of a chronically underfunded support infrastructure than a government gone crazy with red tape - although that is part of the problem. And for some, it is not a bug - it's a feature.

There's several conservative talking points underlying this. One is that government money comes with too much waste and burdensome regulation. The other is that people would be getting more science done if they didn't have to placate a bureaucratic monster. This narrative is always trotted out to attack government spending on science and government in general. It doesn't matter whether it is true or not because it is NOT about science. It's about government spending - and people who hate the idea of any spending that doesn't go right into their pockets.

There are several political imperatives driving the quarterly reporting requirements. One is the need for Democrats to be able to point to success stories as quickly as possible in the face of instant charges coming from the Republicans that the stimulus isn't working and the money was wasted. Without hard numbers to answer back (however premature), the Democrats are going to get drowned out by the Republican attack machine. And, the Democrats are also trying to meet the cries for greater accountability.

It's all part of a deliberate strategy by the Republicans to make using the money as difficult as possible; they insist on this nonsense for political advantage. These reporting requirements reinforce the idea that taxpayer dollars will be wasted without oversight. They want to make using federal funds as onerous as possible so people will be discouraged from seeking them.

They want to push horror stories about red tape and overzealous regulation while they also know that the more reports there are going back and forth, the greater the chances they'll be able to find something to blow up into a major scandal. Thus they can discredit the whole idea of government funding for science. Sometimes red tape serves to support the political agenda of those who complain loudest about it.

There's an off hand remark in one of the other comments on this article that predicts that most of the research coming from the stimulus will be of little use - that it will get done, be written up, and then largely buried away. In other words, it will just be a waste of money and of no great significance. Again, the underlying assumption is that fuzzy-thinking scientists and a free spending government will just be throwing money away. That attitude illustrates the corrosive effect that years of anti-government, anti-science propaganda coming from the right has had on the public discourse.

Let's not forget after all, that it is largely the conservative movement that has attacked global climate change as a conspiracy by scientists willing to lie, fake data, and destroy opponents in order to keep a steady stream of government money flowing. The same movement that has crippled stem cell research for years. The same movement that keeps trying to get Darwin declared an unperson and ban the teaching of evolution. The same movement that considers any attention to the public good as an assault on their freedom and therefore Un-American.

It would have been trivial to write up this story as illustrating how years of starvation diets for research in America are leading to temporary institutional indigestion because of a one-time stimulus package. Instead it falls almost automatically into conservative tropes. Good luck seeing any continued funding for science if this prevails.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:25 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    This is the kind of story that goes under the radar mostly, as far as the traditional media are concerned. But it's also one of the battlefields where decades of conservative dogma about government spending are in flux. How the narrative shapes the reporting is going to be a significant factor in shaping the outcome.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:25:13 PM PST

  •  it is the incompetant university...... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, trashablanca, OHdog, KingofSpades

    money administration people, not the feds.  My grant admin local folks can't figure out most policies that exist already.  

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:35:33 PM PST

    •  A lot of it is due to the fact (9+ / 0-)

      that most universities are run like medieval Italian city states. The Earl of Anatomy. The Duke of astrophysics. They all have their little fiefdoms with their little accounting unit and grants office. In many cases, particularly in biology, there is no real reason for separate departments and thankfully there is a steady move toward more integrated structures. But University administrations are still woefully behind the times and, more annoyingly, unresponsive to staff. I work for the University of California and I really dislike the constant pretense that the administration makes of "we want to hear from you". Really? How about not giving your senior people pay raises and bonuses while you cut average workers' pay, assholes?

    •  Have been around academic, research institutions (7+ / 0-)

      And I can tell you everybody sweats grant applications and reporting. The rewards are small compared to the consequences of screwing up. What the article reports is that the ARRA funding quadruples the number of reports and asks for things they haven't been asked before. It's not really surprising this is a problem because it's still new to everybody. Once people get the routines down, it should be a little bit easier.

      That being said, it does look like it goes beyond reasonable - but the political factors playing out here will probably make this the way things are from now on.

      At least we have the problem of complaining about how hard it is to keep track of the money, rather than complaining about its absence. I know which I'd prefer.

      And it does increase employment.  ;-)

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:51:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Everything Was Shifting Corporate When I Worked (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, murrayewv, trashablanca

      as support staff in university research admin. Research was trending proprietary, work was moving off campus to avoid indirect costs of university facilities, some of the admin work was going private. That's been over a decade so I don't know what it's like now. But it was getting ugly in the same ways that the rest of the country has not reversed yet.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:05:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the GOP ideal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k9disc, alizard

        If it isn't going to make money for someone, if it doesn't lead to profit or larger profit than an alternative, then it isn't worth doing. That's the GOP attitude towards funding research. It has to make money. God help us, they've been pushing this for years.

        The New England Journal of Medicine had an article some time recently which basically said much of the research being funded by Big Pharma was so tainted and skewed towards the bottom line, they could no longer trust what was being published in the science journals.

        When all research is funded by corporations, everything will be a trade secret and open science will be done.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:14:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Right. This is not about science; (7+ / 0-)

    it's about shoveling money out the door. Research dollars have a significant multiplier effect in the economy. Still, it's a little hard when the money is geared to short-term objectives. Every scientist is under pressure to come up with some kind of gimmick. This is no way to fund research. There has to be a long-term commitment in place. In one NIH program, they wanted to fund 200 grants; they got 20,000 applications.

    •  People here dont get that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      they dont understand how disastrous the stimulus package for science was.   They juts like to watch pictures in the diaries of blackwaterdog and say Obama is great.

      Obama has been so far a huge disappointment in his support for science.

      •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar

        that's so funny. Just this morning I was on a call with the administrator for a new project I'm on.  It came from ARRA funds. It's totally helping my small business (a science business), and it is communicating technical concepts to both scientists and the public.

        Wicked disappointment, how exactly?

        I do have to submit reports about what I do twice a month. It's incredibly onerous [not].

        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

        by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 06:26:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Feast or famine? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, trashablanca

      More like binge after years of famine. Not surprising it hurts and could be done better - but at least something is changing.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:54:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, I hope that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, xaxnar

      the boost - which cleared a bit of the backlog of good project ideas - will be then put into the regular budget as an increase, to avoid what happened in the late 1990's going into the early Bush years.

      We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

      by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 05:06:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      In a way I agree. On the other hand, since every lab I knew was hurting for money, the stimulus money we all got helped a HUGE amount. It is true that more is needed, but man, until that comes through, the stimulus money saved some of our jobs.

  •  Thanks xaxnar, Your diary raises several (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, trashablanca

    important issues that are underdiscussed and we need some solutions to.

    Are these sentences here, and the following paragraph, your key point?

    It's all part of a deliberate strategy by the Republicans to make using the money as difficult as possible; they insist on this nonsense for political advantage. These reporting requirements reinforce the idea that taxpayer dollars will be wasted without oversight. They want to make using federal funds as onerous as possible so people will be discouraged from seeking them.

    If so, I hope you will write additional diary, with a catchy headline to highlight this point.  Like "GOP Deliberating, Subverting Government Aid Legislation?"

    I woke up late and I'm trying to speed read all the diaries since yesterday, so sorry if I've oversimplified the point.

    At first I thought, you diary was primarily about the difficult dillemma of balancing the reporting overhead burden of government aid.  And a concern that excess reporting requirements were giving legitimacy to the right wings point about government innefficiency.

    This is an additional challenge worthy of greater discussion.  If too little reporting leads to corruption, misuse, or sub-optimal allocation of funds, we not only allow inefficiencies, but undermine the legitimacy of the vital goverment programs we think are neccessary.

    But, excess requirements, can also lead to inefficiencies, and also create a bias towards more centralized, larger scale research, at the expense of smaller businesses or institutions that can not affort the overhead.

    But, if we have evidence that these dastardly Republicans are deliberately, sclerotitizing our bills, to subvert the programs, and create evidence of political scandal we should be doubly diligent and quick about getting on top of this and exposing these mangy dogs for the rotten and disruptive scounderals they really are.

    Keep up the good work.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:39:02 PM PST

    •  That's the way it goes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, trashablanca, HoundDog

      Science, defense, etc.  The GOP isn't interested in getting anything done other than keeping their grasp on power, keeping their base happy, and making the Democrats look incompetent. (Not that the last one is hard.)  Obstruction, objection, delay - that's all part of their strategy.

      When your party believes government does not and can not work, you don't have to worry about solving problems or the country as a whole. You just have to worry about you and yours. Now that's REAL freedom - the freedom to not give a damn about anyone else or the future.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:01:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're on to the plot. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, HoundDog

        I am a fan of the Republican Saboteur frame.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:48:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I like it too. Not only can it be a powerful (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          k9disc, xaxnar

          political frame, it appears to be a valid and true obsevation as well.

          The GOP can win their primitive goals by subverting the process as well as the content of legislation.

          We need to fight extra hard and in smarter ways to make sure we don't win the battles but lose the war.

          Excellent points previous posters.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 05:58:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hiring More people is part of The stimulusa (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, trashablanca

    of objective . I am sure the burdensome requirement will be streamline as this progresses. Those in charge should conduct a survey of recipients and find a way to make the system work better.

  •  The stimulus funding was administered in a (0+ / 0-)

    disastrous way.   Not to mention that the funding paylines for science have not changed since Bush.  The Obama administration has completely failed to be pro-science so far.

    •  Without more info (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trashablanca

      I can't really accept your assertion. Links?

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 03:56:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I dont have time to (0+ / 0-)

        find links.  Ask scientists who know.  What I wrote is 100% accurate.

        •  Erm, I'm a scientist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar

          and I think that Obama's done quite well in science.

          See: letting the EPA actually protect the environment
          A boost for NIH funding
          The stimulus package
          Stem Cell guidelines eased significantly

          Shall I go on?

          We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

          by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 05:07:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Boost for NIH funding? (0+ / 0-)

            Can you elaborate.  That is not a true statement.  Please explain where do you base that on.   The numbers tell a different story.  Basically, no difference than what it was under Bush.  Check the paylines (if you know what I mean).

            The stimulus package was administered in a disastrous way.  Did you get any money?

            And by the way, you are not the only scientist around.

            •  I'm a scientist. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              xaxnar, chparadise

              I got money.  

              From 2 different projects so far.

              I know what paylines are. But that's not the only outlet (if you know what I mean).

              Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

              by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 06:29:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The paylines are at the same level as they were (0+ / 0-)

                under Bush.  In all institutes.  And, no, I dont know what you mean.  People get funded by applications.  Even for the stimulus money there were RC grants.   I dont know anyone who got dministrative supplements.

                So are you happy that the paylines have not moved.  Under Bill Clinton most institutes were at 25%.  Under Bush 10-16%, under Obama no change.

                •  Stop distorting this. (0+ / 0-)

                  I didn't say that.  

                  You asked if we got any money.  The answer is yes--from more than 1 of us and more than one route.  You can pretend that isn't true, but the data belies that.

                  And here's a tip: just because you "don't know anyone" doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  I suspect you have a fairly limited world view based on your statements.  The world is larger than your little bubble, mkay?

                  Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                  by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 08:22:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You are apparently ignorant (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you dispute what I wrote about the paylines? Yes or no?  Are they any better than what they were under Bush?  If you are a scientist you should know the answer.

                    What matters are the paylines.  That's how the vast majority of the scientific world gets funded.   If you dont know and you dont understand that, what can I say?

                    Of course and few people got administrative supplements.   And, yes, there are people who got RC grants (about 2% of the applications, check it out).   The fact remains that the stimulus was mostly a big waste.  The problem remains unchanged.   There is an ongoing major crisis in science and the Obama administration has not done much, if anything to deal with that.  

                    •  As I told you (0+ / 0-)

                      paylines are not the only thing that matters.  I have the data--in many digits.  There are contractual mechanisms outside of your narrow focus.  

                      I have the cash.  Who is ignorant?

                      Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                      by mem from somerville on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 08:38:53 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  LOL....you are really ignorant... (0+ / 0-)

                        You have the cash?  You think I dont?  

                        Paylines are "narrow focus"?  hello?  I dont know what you do and dont care.  But you clearly are not very familiar with the system.  The moment you call the primary mechanism for funding (grants and their paylines) my narrow focus, you show that you have no idea what you are talking about.  

            •  Actually, yes, I did (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mem from somerville

              My current funding is NIH. And, it's from the stimulus package. So, yes, I did get funding. From the stimulus.

              NIH got 10% boost 2010 and a proposed 5% boost 2011. This is aside from the 20 billion in science funding in the stimulus package.

              We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

              by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 07:16:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  so you got a 2 year grant from the stimulus? (0+ / 0-)

                Or a supplement to an already existing NIH grant.   If you want to judge funding, look at the paylines.  

                Under Clinton up to 25%
                Under Bush junior 10-16%
                Under Obama (so far) 10-16%

                Most of the stimulus money at NIH was wasted.   I dont know anyone who does not think that.  Even people who got RC grants.

                •  Yes, 2 year grant (0+ / 0-)

                  And, the money spent on me wasn't wasted. Just my humble opinion, but I rather think it was worth it to fund me (or my advisor, who's paying me).

                  So, now you know one person who things the funding wasn't wasted.

                  At my university there's at least 3 more 2 year grants in similar situations where they have pretty exciting research that got funded.

                  We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

                  by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 10:02:28 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I should also point out that... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  xaxnar

                  Bush Jr had 8 years to get that 10-16% increase. Obama's had one. So judge what he's done either on a per year basis or at the end. That's a far more honest way of judging than it is to compare a one (or two) year advance in funding vs an 8 year advance in funding.

                  We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

                  by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 10:04:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Apparently you did not understand (0+ / 0-)

                    There is no 10-16% increase.   That is the range of the paylines for funding.  That has not changed.  Bush brought it down from Clinton.  It was 20-25% under Clinton and the Bush disaster brought it down to 10-16%.   It has not changed under Obama.   It remains at the very low levels it was under Bush.  NO improvement.

                    •  By payline for funding, do you mean (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Blue Wind

                      the % of grants that get funded under any given application?

                      That's still a problematic metric to go by, if more people are applying for more grants now. Thus, if 1000 applied for a grant under Bush and 100 got funded, and now 2000 apply for a grant under Obama and 200 get funded (and it's the same grant program), then that's an increase.

                      The NIH isn't perfect, but by any metric I can find, with a fair accounting, they are funding more. I think what's happening now is that people who had given up on getting funding are getting back into the game and it's keeping the % funded lower.

                      We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

                      by chparadise on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 08:23:44 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I dont think you get it (0+ / 0-)

                        What has happened is that because the paylines have remained very low, more people keep applying and recycling same grants.  By lowering paylines (% applications funded) Bush damaged big time science. The Obama administration has done nothing to reverse that, apparently because there is no money.  However, they keep wasting billions in wars without a purpose (ie. Afghanistan).  Just one week of expenses of the war in Afghanistan would have major impact in supporting science.  Instead, we are at the same level of funding as under Bush.

                        •  I think I get it (0+ / 0-)

                          Your chief complaint is that we shouldn't be spending $ on the wars, when we could boost funding more. I'm arguing that there's been a lot done, but I fully acknowledge that more can be done.

                          What will be interesting is that right now we've got increased grant applications and increased funding, so the cutoff line for funding has remained roughly the same. Going forward, which "blinks" first - do more people keep applying, so even with the increased funding the cutoff line for funding remains in the same percentiles, or do people stop recycling grant applications as they get funded and the percentile to get funded creeps back into the range it was late Clinton years.

                          I won't argue that more can't be done - I agree that it'd be a major boon to science if there's an increase again in funding which doesn't then get cut off at the knees like it was in the early Bush years (I was a victim of this adjustment in my first stop in academia). However, I think that much has been done, and the payline problem is a function of PI's coming back into the grant-writing business and an increased number of grant applications taking up the increased funding.

                          The alternative explanation for what's happened to the extra money is that it's either been sunk into the NIH research facilities or the amount awarded / grant has increased.

                          And, going by other metrics - like letting the EPA actually consider science in decisions, releasing stem cell lines, etc - Obama's doing so much better than Bush.

                          We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

                          by chparadise on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:17:33 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  From what you wrote earlier in the thread... (0+ / 0-)

                            it sounds that you are either a post-doc or a student (you referred to your "advisor").   So, I am not surprised that you dont appreciate exactly what is happening.   What I wrote is correct.  There has been NO significant increase under Obama in funding.   That's reality.  Obama has failed to do something to reverse the Bush catastrophy.   The Clinton's would have done much more.

                          •  Hmm...yes, you're correct that I'm a student (0+ / 0-)

                            or postdoc.

                            I misunderstood your "paylines", but now that I know what you mean there, I think I have a pretty good handle on your objection.

                            Did you see this Nature editorial?

                            http://www.nature.com/...

                            However, if the budget goes through as something resembling Obama's proposal, funding levels for basic-research agencies would stay on track for a doubling over ten years

                            Or, this one:
                            http://www.nature.com/...

                            So, while I'm absolutely sure that you're correct that the same percentage of grants are being funded - and that there could be even more of a boost - I think that the blanket accusation that the Obama admin has done nothing is wrong. I think that it could be said, instead, that they've done a lot in science funding, but they should be doing more instead of sinking the $ into wars, etc. The NIH also lagged the NSF, NIST, and the DoE's science department in % increase in funding.

                            I think we're looking at different metrics. I'm looking at total funding and individual areas that have experienced a change from Bush to Obama. You're focusing on the percent of grants that get funded via the NIH and wishing that war money was used on R&D instead. I won't argue that more can't be done - more can be done - but I think that things that are being done are being overlooked. Other than that, I think we'll have to agree to disagree, since I've presented my evidence, explained my metrics, admitted the part of your argument that I misunderstood, and acknowledged that more can be done, in addition to presenting my conclusion. If you're still not convinced by my argument I think I've reached the end of what I can say without starting to look up more detailed information.

                            We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

                            by chparadise on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:51:02 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  ARRA reporting is burdensome, but then every (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, patti66, xaxnar, trashablanca

    agency requires "progress reports" anyhow, AND adherence with OMB A21 and A100, which is already a pain. UC has come up with templates for the PI's to fill in, so it's not as awful as it could have been.  

    The result of that is a fair amount of transparency, which will counter the GOP talking point if handled properly- just try to find out the same amount of detail about how the rest of your taxpayer money is being spent!

  •  Thanks for pointing out that "thousands" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, xaxnar

    in increased overhead is a small price for BILLIONS in grants.

    It should also be noted that that "overhead" means "people," or, put another way, "jobs."

    I thought that's what we were trying to stimulate.

    Corporations are people? How many immortal, psychopathic trillionaires do you know? __________ Songs at da web site!

    by Crashing Vor on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:12:02 PM PST

  •  Academia should be the last sector to whine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc

    It's used to external funding with onerous reporting conditions.

    Enrich your life with adverbs!

    by Rich in PA on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:23:19 PM PST

  •  I think you are missing the point (0+ / 0-)

    For one of my side jobs, I am a small player on a very large team that is getting stimulus money.

    It honestly seems as if this team spends more time on paperwork than science.

    I think this is some misguided effort at transparency.

    I have limited my role in the project for this very reason.

    In the end, I think we are going to report $4000 spent on science and $2,996,000 on paperwork related expenses.

    I am joking (slightly), but I really do not think this is how the taxpayers want their science dollars spent.

    •  The point is, (0+ / 0-)

      Transparency or not, this is the way things are when the conservative agenda is to make spending government on anything (except for their pet projects) impossible. We wouldn't be having these requirements if not for the current political climate.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 04:36:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll just give my own quick take (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mem from somerville, mole333, xaxnar

    I'm currently funded via stimulus money, and my boss hasn't bitched about anything other than pace on the project. And, I think that much of the time spent accounting on the current grants would have been instead spent chasing new grants, had the stimulus people not been funded.

    I'd be willing to bet if you polled 200 recipients of challenge grants (1 million, two years, NIH), 199 would say it was worth it to apply and they'd rather keep the money instead of giving it back since it's too much of a pain.

    I could go on, but the grousing about bookkeeping and requirements is just that - grousing. They'd still rather have the $ than not.

    We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving. - Kingsley Shacklebolt

    by chparadise on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 05:04:32 PM PST

  •  From my point of view... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mem from somerville, xaxnar

    I can't speak for anyone else, but for me and everyone around me, the stimulus money was a godsend. We have more money for both equipment and salaries, which means I am not in immediate fear of being laid off. Another lab bought a fabulous confocal microscope with stimulus money, a scope we all can use. We are a top research facility and everyone has been happy with the stimulus money. Not only has it probably saved some jobs, but it brought in some equipment that will make our experiments much easier to accomplish.

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