Friday, 23 Sep 94 Washington, DC
1. ACADEMIC EARMARKS: THE EXTENT OF AGENCY ACQUIESCENCE REVEALED.
George Brown (D-CA), Chairman of the House Science Committee and
scourge of academic pork, opened two days of hearings into the
unsavory practice by reminding Martha Krebs of DOE, Jon Cannon of
EPA, and MRC Greenwood of OSTP, that report language accompanying
appropriation bills does not have the force of law. Moreover,
earmarks violate the Administration's commitment to peer review
(WN 5 Aug 94).
So why do agencies invariably comply? In fact,
their eagerness to appease appropriators doesn't stop with report
language: they scour the Congressional Record for hints of what
the appropriators want and fund programs based on nothing more
than a phone call from an appropriation committee clerk. Why
doesn't the Administration order agencies to ignore this stuff?
"The Administration doesn't want to alienate the appropriators,"
Brown sighed, "they would prefer that I make these enemies."
2. WHY DO UNIVERSITIES SEEK EARMARKS? BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE!
On the second day of the hearings, the Committee heard from John
Silber, President, University of Boston, and Sister Mary Reap,
Immaculate Heart of Mary, President of Marywood College, a major
defense contractor (WN 6 Dec 91).
Rep. Joseph McDade (R-PA), the
ranking minority member on Defense Appropriations and a pork
barrel hall of famer, introduced Sister Mary. Silber was
introduced by Rep. Joseph Kennedy, who seemed totally unaware of
the purpose of the hearing and urged the Committee to designate
Boston for specific funding. Silber declared earmarks to be in
the national interest and vowed to continue seeking them. Asked
whether she was concerned about colleges without powerful friends
on Appropriations, Sister Mary shrugged, "Earmarking works for
Marywood." Indeed it does. Nor does she see any conflict with
peer review. Following the Marywood model, she proposed that "the
funding come first" and that peer review be conducted afterwards.
3. DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS CONFERENCE MEETS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
The meeting is in its second day, but we have no word on how the
conferees will reconcile their huge differences over university
research (WN 16 Sep 94).
Rep. John Murtha slashed research in
the House bill in what has been read as a message to academics to
stop siding with Brown on earmarking. Murtha defends earmarking
but insists the cuts are required by the decline in the budget.
4. FREEMAN DYSON IS A WINNER OF THE 1994 ENRICO FERMI AWARD!
The Institute for Advanced Study physicist was cited in a White House
announcement for courageous questioning of risks and benefits of
science and technology and for his popular writings on science.
5. GEORGE BROWN WILL APPEAR IN THE CBS MOVIE, "WITHOUT WARNING."
The movie deals with an asteroid colliding with Earth. In real
life, Brown has been a champion of funding for asteroid research.