Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report Thursday accusing the National Science Foundation of wasting $1.2 billion in taxpayer money.
“As a practicing physician and a two-time cancer survivor, I understand the benefits of scientific research,” Coburn said in a news release announcing the findings of the 73-page report. “Unfortunately, in some ways NSF has undermined its core mission through mismanagement and misplaced priorities.”
Among the research Coburn criticized was an $80,000 study on “why the same teams dominate March Madness” college basketball, a $315,000 study “suggesting Farmville on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships” and a $1 million study of “how quickly parents respond to baby names.”
The report also “identifies duplication” between NSF and other government agencies, such as the Department of Education, Coburn said.
Coburn also said NSF had $1.7 billion in “unspent funds sitting in expired, undisbursed grant accounts” and “at least $3 million in excessive travel funds.”
NSF defended its work and its record in a response to the report.
“The discoveries and innovations that have resulted from NSF-funded research have advanced the frontiers of science and engineering, improved Americans’ lives, and provided the foundations for countless new industries and jobs,” the NSF statement said.
“While no agency is without flaws, NSF has been diligent about addressing concerns from members of Congress about workforce and grant management issues, and NSF’s excellent record of tracking down waste and prosecuting wrongdoing is apparent from Sen. Coburn’s report.”