NSF looks at university cost-sharing

When it comes to the quality of research, does it matter who foots the research bill?

By | December 6, 2007

When it comes to the quality of research, does it matter who foots the research bill? A government task force linkurl:will gather;http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/meetings/2007/1207/agenda.pdf on Friday (December 7) to study whether a linkurl:2004 decision;http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/cspolicy1004.pdf to reduce universities' share of the cost of federally funded projects might have had some negative consequences. The current funding deal is that institutions have to chip in 1% of National Science Foundation-funded grants, in addition to whatever indirect costs the grant doesn't cover. It used to be that NSF could also require a greater percentage to be chipped in, depending on the project. But in 2004, the National Science Board, which advises the NSF, decided that the NSF could ask for no more than 1%, and therefore relieve institutions from paying additional shared costs. Seems like a sweet deal for universities, but might not be so great for researchers. "Recently there's been an interest in the issue again, basically because there have been unintended consequences, particularly for projects that have linkurl:industry involvement,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/24820" Jennifer Richards, the executive secretary of the NSB's Task Force on Cost Sharing, told __The Scientist__. Those unintended consequences, she explained, are that researchers are finding it difficult to get companies to join in on industry cooperative centers at institutions when the institutions are not obligated to participate financially. In August this year, the linkurl:America Competes Act;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53476 directed the National Science Board to review its cost sharing policy and report its findings to Congress by February 2008. Friday's public meeting is part of that review; some of the questions to be discussed include how cost sharing might encourage or discourage linkurl:financial investments;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/7/1/28/1/ from universities, and whether cost sharing might come in handy for certain project, such as when industry is involved.

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