WASHINGTON-The Association of American Universities has brought together university administrators and congressional staff in a new effort to stop the growing practice of lobbying Congress to obtain funds to build academic research facilities. Known by its detractors as pork-barrel politics, the approach has long been a favorite among those seeking dams, federal buildings and highways. Since 1983, however, it has become the favored route for dozens of universities and research facilities that have been unable to negotiate the bureaucratic maze of hearings, studies and authorizations that precede the granting of appropriations.

The issue came to a head last summer after the Senate approved $55 million for nine facilities over the protests of numerous educational and scientific organizations. In response, the Association formed a 10-member committee, headed by University of Chicago Chancellor Donald Langenberg, to study how future decisions "can be based on informed judgments of intellectual quality while recognizing other...

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