Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new oversight report, “The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope” that raises serious questions regarding the agency’s management and priorities. The report identifies more than $1.2 billion the National Science Foundation (NSF) has lost due to waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement and an additional $1.7 billion in unspent funds.
“As a practicing physician and a two-time cancer survivor, I understand the benefits of scientific research. Investing in innovation and discovery can transform our lives, advance our understanding of the world and create new jobs. There is no question NSF serves an important –and legitimate – purpose in our society and has contributed to scientific discovery. As the NSF accurately notes, advances like the Internet, cloud computing, bar codes and magnetic resonance imaging technology were supported with investments from NSF,” Dr. Coburn said.
“Unfortunately, in some ways NSF has undermined its core mission through mismanagement and misplaced priorities. For instance, spending taxpayer dollars to study why some college basketball teams dominate March Madness, funding trips for romantically-involved NSF employees and duplicating programs contributes to our debt rather than science,” Dr. Coburn said.
“As part of my commitment to conduct better oversight on how Washington spends your money, this NSF report is the latest in a series of oversight reports. At a time when the U.S. is being both challenged as the world's scientific and technological leader and threatened by a nearly insurmountable $14 trillion debt, we must learn to do more with less. This report demonstrates how NSF can do both. I hope NSF and the scientific community will welcome this oversight and offer insights on how to better prioritize our nation’s limited financial resources to advance science and reduce wasteful spending,” Dr. Coburn said.
Examples of the more than $3 billion in waste and duplication outlined in the report include: