WASHINGTON—A government report has failed to substantiate claims by the National Science Foundation that it has a problem hiring and retaining top-level science administrators. But the report has been denounced as “irrelevant” by the congressional committee that requested the information.

In a four-page fact sheet, the Government Accounting Office found that the attrition rate (retirements, resignations and layoffs) of senior executives at NSF during the past three years was slightly lower than the rate throughout government, averaging 8 percent. Of 114 authorized positions, it said, 104 were fiiled—96 with super-grade civil servants and eight with persons from academia and private industry brought in for up to two years at generally higher salaries.

“It confirmed what I already thought,” said Tom Eickmayer, GAO group director of pay and benefits. “There’s a lot of talk among the agencies, but the evidence just isn’t there.”

However, Eickmayer is worried about the effect of...

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