A House panel questions methodology, motivation behind agency's warning that a huge shortfall threatens the work force
WASHINGTON--A congressional committee is investigating whether political considerations influenced the National Science Foundation's prediction that the United States faces a cumulative shortage of some 675,000 college-educated scientists and engineers over the next two decades.

The NSF prediction, based on studies conducted since 1985 by agency policy analyst Peter House and others, bolstered fears prevalent in the public and private sectors that a dearth of scientifically and technically adept workers will weaken the nation's future ability to compete in the global marketplace. The NSF numbers have been used to buttress arguments that the federal government needs to spend more on science education and research.

Last fall, then-National Science Foundation assistant director Karl Willenbrock created an advisory panel to examine how the agency carried out its survey-collection and policy-analysis functions. At its first meeting, in...

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