Budget Cuts (Hurray!)

raymond hames (rhames@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU)
Mon, 22 May 1995 20:35:56 -0500

This is a comment on part of Corduan's message below
> For another, I'm not sure why those of us in science want the government
> meddling in what we do. If we get money from them, they get to tell us what
> to do. I'd much rather find other sources -- *choose* my source -- rather
> than have the government dictate it.
> What does the government know about anthropology, anyway?

At NSF there are three independent programs in anthropology (cultural,
physical, and archaeology). Cultural and archaeology are run by
permanent program directors who are both anthropologists. Physical is
run by another anthropologist or "rotator" on leave from his or her home
university who is replaced every two to three years. When a grant
application is sent out to review by the appropriate anthropology
program director it is sent to "outside" anthropologists and occasionally
other university-based social and behavioral scientists. Furthermore,
each program director has a panel of about five who read proposals and
the outside reviews and help the program director decide which
proposals to fund.

I think it should be clear that this is a peer review system.
Furthermore, the government is not "dictating" or "meddling" in
anthropological research. The appropriate word is "enabling"
anthropological research. Each program has a base
budget to underwrite fundamental anthropological research and I
estimate that 99% of funding decisions made by program directors are
not questioned or rescinded by higher levels administrators
or Congress. Not infrequently special initiatives (e.g., Human
Dimension of Global Environmental Change or the Human Capital
Initiative) are pushed through by politicans because they believe
these research areas to be important. And this is their right as
elected officials. Perhaps you would like to call this meddling.
I would rather call this additional funding opportunities.

Ray Hames
Anthropology Department
Univesity of Nebraska