Thursday, February 5, 2009


Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, recently called for an investigation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) after several leading scientists were caught spending a significant amount of government time “viewing porn and engaging in sexually explicit online chats” resulting in the waste of tens of thousands of dollars of tax payer’s dollars. Senator Grassley’s investigation comes at a time when Congress is about to give NSF a $3 Billion dollar cash payout associated with the stimulus bill which is up and beyond their $6 Billion dollar annual budget. But downloading pornography should not be the only concern regarding misappropriated time and resources occurring at NSF.

NSF’s dangerous disregard and utter complacency toward public health and safety should also be a main concern for the public.

NSF is a federal government research agency whose mission is to promote the progress of science; advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. They do this by coordinating and awarding federal grants to support basic research and education in science and engineering within the academic community.

Unfortunately NSF priorities are not aligned with the public’s health and safety needs. Research programs are funded without promoting appropriate public safeguards. And as technologies advance, working scientist’s safety rights and consumer safety rights are desperately lacking, especially in fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Commendation should go to Senator Grassley for his insight to probe into NSF’s waste of time and resources of taxpayer’s money. Let’s hope this investigation will not only result in cleaning up NSF’s computers, but also make NSF come to better understand the public’s expectations. One such expectation is to support and ensure public health and safety and scientist’s safety rights as NSF funds advancing technological breakthroughs in basic research.

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