ERIC Number: EJ790331
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar-28
Colleges' Earmarks Grow, Amid Criticism
Brainard, Jeffrey; Hermes, J. J.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n29 pA1 Mar 2008
A record-breaking number of Congressional pork-barrel projects this year has loaded college and university plates with more earmarks than ever before, despite growing worries that the noncompetitive grants undermine the American scientific enterprise, and in spite of promises by some lawmakers to cut back. An analysis by "The Chronicle" shows that legislators channeled more than 2,300 projects to 920 institutions, mostly for research, in the 2008 fiscal year, a 25-percent increase in the number of colleges and universities over 2003. The total dollar amount for 2008 is at least $2.25-billion. Earmarks are given out by members of Congress, without review of the projects' merits by knowledgeable scientists, by including the money into annual spending bills to favor constituents. This year, for the first time, it is possible to see just how widespread the practice is: a new law requires Congress to identify the sponsor of every earmark. The danger of increased earmarking, critics charge, is that it continues even as legislators have fallen behind in spending for scientific grants awarded the conventional way, through open competition and peer review. Competition is widely regarded as having made America's science the world's best, and the strength of that science has helped make America's economy the world's biggest. Earmarks have neither beneficial effect, some studies suggest, and other countries' research and trade are catching up. The dirty little secret about earmarks for science, say the writers, is that while college officials occasionally fret about them in public, they chase them in private. Politicians are also conflicted. On the presidential-campaign trail, earmarks are getting high-profile attention: Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, battling for the Democratic slot, supported a one-year moratorium, though they both handed out generous earmarks to colleges last year.
Descriptors: Legislators, Federal Aid, Funding Formulas, Finance Reform, Scientific Research, Scientific Enterprise, Higher Education, Policy Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A