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Smithsonian funding vindicated

Reports support institute's continued exemption from competition for federal dollars.

Eugene Russo(erusso@the-scientist.com)

Two reports released October 31 conclude that the Smithsonian Institution should retain its current unique funding system, which was recently called into question by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Established in 1846, for "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," the Smithsonian is funded by direct federal appropriation each year.

However, in the FY2003 presidential budget, the White House's OMB raised concern that Smithsonian funds were not awarded competitively, which could be impeding quality assurance and preventing the money from funding the "best science." The office suggested that some portion of the money should be awarded through competitive grants administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Protest from Smithsonian led to the commissioning of reviews by both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). Based on input from Smithsonian administrators and outside scientists, both reports came to similar conclusions....

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