Senate bill gives ‘have-not’ states a big boost

The National Science Foundation (NSF) operates a well-regarded system for awarding research grants. But it has resulted in a staggering geographic imbalance. The U.S. Senate wants to fix the problem by requiring NSF to spend 20% of its budget—almost $2 billion next year—on the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which steers funding to the 28 jurisdictions—25 states and three territories—that fare worst in NSF9s grants competition. But others are wary of dramatically expanding EPSCoR, fearing its growth could distort the rest of NSF9s research portfolio. They favor a bill the House of Representatives passed last month that would create programs to build research capacity at any institution outside the top 100 recipients of federal research dollars and support colleges and universities that educate large numbers of minority students. Neither program would be limited to institutions in EPSCoR states.
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