Washington D.C. - In a statement released yesterday, the Association of American Universities (AAU) criticized the House Science Committee for seeking information about taxpayer-funded grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). AAU’s statement relies on the false assertion that the Committee seeks to know the names of the external reviewers who evaluate NSF grant proposals. Science Committee staff highlighted this inaccurate claim to AAU’s Washington, D.C. office immediately, but AAU has failed to acknowledge the mistake nor retract its statement.
Chairman Smith: “It is the AAU’s stance that information about taxpayer-funded grants should be kept secret both from Congress and the American people in order to protect academic freedom. However, it is unequivocally false that I demand to know the names of grant reviewers. As I confirmed months ago in a letter to NSF Director France Cordova, the Science Committee does not seek the names of NSF’s external reviewers. Dr. Cordova and I agree on this point; NSF removes reviewers’ names and identifying information from grant files that NSF permits the Committee to review. But apparently the AAU intends to keep repeating these false claims. It’s unfortunate that the AAU believes the best way to engage with Congress is through an unsigned public statement that is full of distortions. Researchers are free in our country to study any subject they like, but when taxpayers finance scientific endeavors, they are entitled – legally and morally - to know how their money is spent.”