Funding Of Two Science Labs Revives Pork Barrel Vs. Peer Review Debate

Controversy over propriety is rekindled as new physics and marine biotech centers make their respective moves to gain federal allocations WASHINGTON--Buried within the 1992 appropriations bill signed last month by President Bush for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and several other federal agencies is an allocation of $43 million to start the building of two new academic research facilities. One--a $211 million observatory to measure gravity waves, to be built at two sites thousands of

Jeffrey Mervis
Nov 24, 1991
Controversy over propriety is rekindled as new physics and marine biotech centers make their respective moves to gain federal allocations
WASHINGTON--Buried within the 1992 appropriations bill signed last month by President Bush for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and several other federal agencies is an allocation of $43 million to start the building of two new academic research facilities.

One--a $211 million observatory to measure gravity waves, to be built at two sites thousands of miles apart--has undergone extensive peer review by scientists and a federal research agency and has been a part of the president's budget for the past two years. The other--a $130 million marine biotechnology center in downtown Baltimore--is a project pushed successfully for the past three years by its home state's congressional delegation.

Maryland's legislators are hardly the first to bypass scientific peer review in a drive for federal funds. Although several reports have documented a...