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Policy

NSF employee asks for investigation of rotating worker system

by Andrea Widener
July 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 27

The National Science Foundation relies on temporary employees on detail from universities or other research centers to manage many of its programs, including chemistry. The leader of the American Federation of Government Employees union at the agency says these “rotators” put peer review of federal research grants at risk. In a letter to Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), union president David Verardo claims that NSF is jeopardizing its grant programs by “handing control over to the people who benefit directly from NSF grants.” Verardo, a program director for paleoclimate research, claims those jobs could better be filled by career civil servants who would have fewer conflicts. He says the union has been excluded from talks about reforming the rotator system and asks for an investigation by the congressional Government Accountability Office. In response, NSF spokesperson Aya Collins says there is a great benefit to the rotator system. The rotators are “an important part of NSF’s workforce, ensuring that the agency has a diverse, agile staff on the forefront of scientific progress,” she says.

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