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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary - Follow the Money: Accountability and Transparency in Recovery Act Science Funding

March 19, 2009

Dr. Cora Marrett, Acting Deputy Director, Senior Accountability Officer at the National Science Foundation testified at the hearing entitled, "Follow the Money: Accountability and Transparency in Recovery Act Science Funding," held by the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, House Committee on Science and Technology on March 19, 2009. The hearing was held to obtain information from agencies on the plans for allocating funds directed under H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

To open the hearing, Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) discussed that the purpose of the hearing was "to learn how agencies in this committee's legislative jurisdiction intend to distribute funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and then to examine what will be done to guarantee that those funds are not awarded improperly or wasted."

In her testimony, Dr. Marrett stated that the $3 billion NSF received in the Recovery Act will "sustain and advance major research initiatives, enhance support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, and help renew America's research infrastructure." Of the $3 billion allocated to NSF, $2.5 billion is for Research and Related Activities, $400 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, and $100 million for Education and Human Resources.

Dr. Marrett testified that NSF will "distribute these funds expeditiously" and "will not compromise the fairness and competiveness that marks the review process in order to move funds rapidly." NSF's first priority is to fund highly rated proposals that have already been reviewed, but were not funded due to fiscal limitations of the regular annual NSF budget. Consistent with the Administration priorities, NSF will place a priority on funding first time investigators and will prioritize high risk, transformative research.

NSF will work with the National Science Board and the Office of the Inspector General on developing procedures for meeting the new monitoring and reporting requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Other witnesses at the hearing were Mr. Ron Spoehel, Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Ms. Ellen Herbst, Senior Official for Recovery Implementation, U.S. Department of Commerce; Mr. Matthew Rogers, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Energy; Mr. Tim Cross, Interim Inspector General, National Science Foundation; Mr. Todd Zinser, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce; Mr. Gregory H. Friedman, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Energy; Ms. Patricia Dalton, Managing Director, Natural Resources and Environment Division, U.S. Government Accountability Office.