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How a proposal becomes an earmark

By Bob Grant How a proposal becomes an earmark © tim tomkinson Attracting an earmark isn’t always as simple as shaking the right hands in the back halls of Congress. “I think it’s really a misunderstanding to think that this all ends with a Congressman sneaking language into some bill that then gets passed in the middle of the night as part of some omnibus appropriation and ‘boom’ it’s done,” says URI Pres

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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How a proposal becomes an earmark

© tim tomkinson

Attracting an earmark isn’t always as simple as shaking the right hands in the back halls of Congress. “I think it’s really a misunderstanding to think that this all ends with a Congressman sneaking language into some bill that then gets passed in the middle of the night as part of some omnibus appropriation and ‘boom’ it’s done,” says URI President David Dooley. “I’m not saying that that doesn’t happen. Everybody can point it out. But my experience has been that that’s pretty rare.” Here’s how the process happens at URI:

1. Solicit proposals from dozens of researchers at the university.

2. Sift through those proposals with the help of administrators, vice presidents, and college deans.

3. Pick about 10 of the best proposals. “It’s not in our interest to bring forward something that ultimately looks silly to the public and...

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