The $268 billion defense appropriations bill that passed Congress Friday contains tens of millions of dollars worth of special, unauthorized projects for members, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) told the Senate shortly before its adjournment yesterday.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee attacked the practice of a "few anointed universities" being singled out for grants, and went on to read a long list of projects in the bill that he considered of questionable merit. Standing a few feet away was Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that drafted the bill.
When Nunn announced that he plans hearings next year to investigate the projects, Inouye declared: "I look forward to working with the gentleman from Georgia."
Nunn has campaigned for several years to put Pentagon grants to universities on a competitive footing, rather than have them "earmarked" in appropriations bills. A law passed with Nunn's support requires "peer review" for such grants.
The administration requested $98 million for competitive research grants, but the House added $60 million in special projects, including $10 million to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, "for a facility under the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences."
Among the allocations Nunn criticized was $5 million for a parliamentary building in the Solomon Islands, a project sponsored by Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.).
Nunn said he also wanted to know why $15 million was being allocated to a children's museum in New Jersey and $24 million to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
Nunn said he has no objection to the projects, as long as they are required to compete for their grants.