WASHINGTON--The National Science Foundation violated several federal procurement laws in an attempt to replace the National Academy of Sciences as the contractor for its prestigious graduate fellowship program, according to a report issued by the agency's inspector general, Linda Sundro. These actions include a breach of confidentiality in the bidding process, conflict of interest by a staffer, and a failure to follow normal procedures in reviewing the bids of potential contractors.

The results of Sundro's investigation, obtained by The Scientist through a request under the Freedom of Information Act, also reveal that decisions made by past and present NSF directors were undermined by those responsible for carrying them out. The report documents how former NSF director Erich Bloch and NAS president Frank Press decided to end the academy's 40-year stewardship of the program, but how numerous improprieties in the process of finding a new manager for the program caused current...

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