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Congress hears plan for science super-agency

发布时间:2019-02-28 10:18:06来源:未知点击:

THE US Congress is batting around a plan to set up a super-department of science. Backers claim that it would increase efficiency, critics fear that it would be unwieldy and concentrate too much power in one organisation. The chairman of the House science committee, Robert Walker, is holding hearings on the proposal to build a cabinet-level department that would fuse NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the scientific arms of the departments of energy, commerce and agriculture. Walker says that combining the organisations would remove duplication of effort and sharpen the focus of research. But critics complain that the organisations have such vastly different missions that they cannot be effectively combined. John Gibbons, science adviser to the White House, opposes the plan, saying it would limit the country’s flexibility in funding science, and replace it with a “command and control model of rigid bureaucracy”. Energy secretary Hazel O’Leary also opposes the plan, saying that it would simply add another layer of bureaucracy. The organisations Walker wants to lump together are some of the biggest funders of science in the country. And the proposal comes at a time when funding for them is being cut. Last week, the science committee approved legislation that would cut federal funding for R&D by roughly 30 per cent. Robert Park, a spokesman for the American Physical Society, says that the society opposes the plan for a Department of Science. One of its main concerns is that the National Science Foundation, which gives grants with relatively little bureaucratic inefficiency, would become entangled in a large, unwieldy organisation,