Report Exposing Waste & Mismanagement at the National Science Foundation

Today U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released a new oversight report, “The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope” that raises serious questions regarding the agency’s management and priorities. The report identifies more than $1.2 billion the National Science Foundation (NSF) has lost due to waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement and an additional $1.7 billion in unspent funds.

Examples of the more than $3 billion in waste and duplication outlined in the report include:

• $80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness;

• $315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships;

• $1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names;

• $50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, including a rap called “Money 4 Drugz,” and a misleading song titled “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas”;

• $2 million to figure out that people who often post pictures on the internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends; and

• $581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist.

Additionally, the report details examples of mismanagement including:

• Hundreds of millions of dollars lost to ineffective contracting;

• $1.7 billion in unspent funds sitting in expired, undisbursed grant accounts;

• At least $3 million in excessive travel funds

• A lack of accountability or program metrics to evaluate expenditures.

• Inappropriate staff behavior including porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping at NSF-operated facilities in Antarctica.

The report also identifies duplication between NSF and other departments and agencies. NSF is one of at least 15 federal departments, 72 sub-agencies, and 12 independent agencies engaged in federal research and development.

NSF also duplicates the work of the Department of Education and other government agencies in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. In 2010, there were 28 STEM education programs at NSF totaling $1.2 billion. Across the federal government, there are 99 STEM education programs totaling $3 billion.  Source: Dr. Coburn’s Website

I am sharing this with you for the simple fact that our government doesn’t need to raise taxes, it needs to cut spending. This is the crap from a single department in our Federal government. Imagine all the other stuff that could be cut.  I wish I could report all the local waste with “grant money” but I can’t someday I will.  If we cut our spending on frivolous crap we could recover from our bad debt past.

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1 Comment

  1. “NSF is one of at least 15 federal departments, 72 sub-agencies, and 12 nindependent agencies engaged in federal research and development.” This seems to be the perfect example illustrating your point. This statement alone means there is nearly 100 agencies that could be eliminated all together that private industry could cover if there were a need for it.

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