Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today approved the NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 5049), a bill introduced by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.). This bill improves the management and oversight of major multi-user research facilities funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and requires more transparency and accountability for how the agency uses taxpayer dollars.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The Committee seeks to enforce that taxpayer dollars are not wasted on mismanagement and questionable costs. This bill will achieve that goal. It addresses gaps in project oversight and management through solutions identified by the NSF Inspector General, auditors, an outside review panel, and the Committee’s own work for a year and half.”
Last September, the Committee learned that National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) was likely to be $80 million over budget and 18 months behind schedule. Thousands of taxpayer dollars for the project were spent on expenses such as a Christmas party, premium coffee service, professional lobbying, as well as liquor for office happy hours and trips to a high-end resort in France.
Last December, NSF Director France Córdova agreed to commission a study by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to take a closer look at how NSF could better manage large-scale projects. In February, the Committee heard from the NAPA study committee’s project director about 13 recommendations NAPA made to improve NSF’s management and oversight of cooperative agreements.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): “This bill will ensure that NSF makes the systematic changes necessary to restore confidence in federally-funded research projects, and that taxpayers can trust us with their money knowing that it will be spent in the manner intended.”