Investigations by a congressional committee are “having a destructive effect on NSF and on the merit review process,” says the Association of American Universities, which represents the top U.S. research universities, in a statement issued last week. Specifically, AAU is concerned about the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology’s months-long investigation into 60 of the roughly 10,000 NSF merit-reviewed research projects. This direct criticism of actions by a specific committee is unusual for AAU. AAU says that the probe could hurt NSF’s lauded peer review process by discouraging reviewers from selecting unconventional research projects. The group says the committee’s choice of grants to investigate is “puzzling” and seems to target projects that have unusual titles, focus on climate change, or study subjects in countries outside of the U.S. Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the committee, says he is seeking accountability. “Researchers are free in our country to study any subject they like, but when taxpayers finance scientific endeavors, they are entitled—legally and morally—to know how their money is spent,” Smith says.