GOP chairman cheers science foundation move on transparency

The head of the House Science Committee is applauding a move to increase transparency at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

After the research-granting foundation announced that it would demand the release of more details about its projects, committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released a statement praising the move.

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“I am encouraged by the NSF’s announcement that it will increase transparency and accountability for taxpayer-supported scientific research,” he said.

“The NSF’s new policy is a step in the right direction,” Smith added. “Congress and taxpayers will be eager to see how the new NSF national interest criterion is implemented.”

Under the new policy, the NSF’s proposal and award manuals must explain why a project is important and “serves the national interest” by advancing scientific though, national defense or health.

"It is important to clearly explain through award titles and abstracts how the research in which NSF invests results in new discoveries and innovations, enhanced prosperity, and the preparation of the next generation of scientists and engineers,” National Science Board chairman Dan Arvizu said in a statement.

The NSF’s funding habits have been under renewed criticism from Republicans of late, in light of a university project that studies the partisan different in social media and the spread of information online.

Smith’s panel has launched a probe into the funding of that project, which he has said seems to be “a simple misuse of public funds.”