A conflict-of-interest case demonstrates that she lacks the power to enforce guidelines on post-employment contact
WASHINGTON - Last year the National Science Foundation broke its own rule that bars former employees from discussing a potential grant or contract with foundation officials for at least one year. But when NSF's new inspector general blew the whistle on the infringement, agency officials in effect shrugged their shoulders and promised to do better the next time around.

The case of Stanley Presser, a sociologist at the University of Maryland and a former program director within NSF's division of social and economic sciences, suggests that the relationship between the new office and the foundation can get a little rocky at times. The inspector general's office, created by legislation passed in 1988, is supposed to watch over the $2 billion foundation. But the investigations conducted by IG Linda Sundro and her staff into alleged financial...

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