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One Big Pot

The chair of the US House of Representatives subcommittee that controls the National Science Foundation budget says he'll no longer seek to dictate funding for the agency by directorate, ScienceInsider reports.

Representative John Culberson (R-Texas) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the House science committee, had been pressing for funding increases for four of NSF's six directorates, namely biology, computing, engineering, and mathematics and physical sciences, while calling for cuts to the social sciences and geosciences.

NSF Director France Córdova has instead been arguing that the agency should be able to fund any exciting research, no matter the field. As ScienceInsider notes, she recently spoke before the panel to say that NSF sets its funding priorities based on community input. In addition, she says that having lawmakers determine funding levels for different directorates would undermine collaboration across disciplines.

Culberson appears to have come around to that way of thinking, ScienceInsider says. "I don't think that politicians should impose their priorities on the scientific community," he tells ScienceInsider. "I think that we should let NSF pick the most promising areas and give the agency the flexibility to pursue them."