One issue that Environmental Protection Agency director-designate Carol Browner will be assessing is the dual nature of the agency's mission. It is a regulatory agency, but through its Office of Exploratory Research (OER), within the Office of Research and Development (ORD), it also funds some basic research. This double focus has made EPA a difficult research partner for environmental scientists, several top EPA managers acknowledge.

Unfortunately, EPA's grants program for investigator-initiated research is woefully underfunded, say scientists both inside and outside EPA. During the last few years, OER has funded about $20 million worth of grants. Attempts to get the congressional allocation increased by $7 million a few years ago were unsuccessful, says Robert Menzer, acting director of OER. The budget increase wasn't fought for by the administration, Congress, or the academic community.

Investigator-Initiated Grants In fiscal year 1991, 229 applications, out of 603 received, were approved for funding by...

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