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Shifting Programs

A hearing held by the House of Representatives science committee earlier this week examined the Obama administration's plan to reorganize US science education programs, ScienceInsider reports. The reorganization would affect some 226 programs at a dozen agencies, consolidating them and moving them to under the aegis of just three agencies, the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian.

While ScienceInsider notes that the proceedings were bereft of partisan bickering, "that comity resulted in a steady stream of skepticism flowing from both sides of the aisle." In particular, legislators seemed concerned about the fate of programs currently at National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose budgets would decrease under the administration's plan.

"Normally, I support efforts to reduce duplicative programs," Representative Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) said at the hearing. "But this reorganization seems rushed and poorly planned. The president's proposal seems to be taking a number of successful initiatives being done by high-quality groups at the local level and running a majority of them through a federal bureaucracy in Washington."

John Holdren, the president's science adviser, told the panel that the reorganization favored programs for "improving K-12 instruction, reforming undergrad programs around evidence based practices, streamlining the graduate fellowship process, and amplifying engagement activities," according to ScienceInsider.

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