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For More Transparency

Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a bill to the US House of Representatives last week designed to make the federal competitive grant-awarding process more transparent, ScienceInsider reports.

According to a statement from Lankford's office, HR 3316 or the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act of 2013 would require federal agencies to provide information about grant opportunities and how applications will be evaluated, what a successful application looks like, and a final report at the end of the grant on a central grants website. Authors of unsuccessful bids could also ask for a debriefing on why their applications didn't pass muster.

ScienceInsider notes, though, that those proposed changes make some academic groups nervous as the bill could require the names of peer reviewers or proprietary information to be released.

Lankford tells ScienceInsider that that is not the intent of the bill, and that it is aimed more specifically at federal agencies that "that do not have a transparent process in place," mentioning specifically the education, justice, and commerce departments. He says that the US National Institutes of Health "does a great job," and that it and the National Science Foundation would not be affected.

"There is no entitlement when it comes to a federal grant," Lankford adds. "They are funded with taxpayer dollars, and they should be handled in the most open and transparent way possible."