Morale has plummeted at the National Science Foundation, it seems, due to governmental oversight and interference from above.    The Senate Finance Committee didn't like a report they got from the NSF and are going to do something about it.

What, that sum'bitch Bush came back to haunt scientists and personally rewrite reports and ask why employees aren't doing their jobs instead of doing talk show appearances about how much he stinks?

Not this time.   Sure, it's a Republican and, yes, he's suppressing freedom of expression as all Republicans must do, but that's because Chuck Grassley doesn't like that freedom of expression means looking at a lot of porn during an NSF work day.   Grassley is not an easy guy to like; not because he goes after corruption like a hopped-up bulldog and criticizes the Department of Defense for wasteful spending and tracks down government employees using government credit cards for personal stuff - that's all fine - he must not be likable because of that Republican thing.  We are a science site, after all.

But he's on to something here.  

First, we have to give credit to the NSF for listing “Abuse of NSF IT Resources” anywhere at all in their 68-page semiannual report.   That had to be painful to do, though it's better than going to jail for not doing it.   They had to have known what Grassley's reaction would be.   As you might guess, he is launching an investigation.  

Apparently this is not just people going on Facebook or other modern contraptions that John McCain and Republicans do not know about - one NSF “senior official” has allegedly spent 20% of his working hours during the last two years looking at porn.    Another complained to the IT group because the web cam he was using for his online canoodling was too slow.   Bringing that complaint to IT takes some cajones, I have to tell you.

We like the National Science Foundation, of course.   We had sort of hoped that the NSF's budget of $6 billion would even go up after 8 years of Sauron's rule and the ... well ... okay, they got budget increases during the Bush years too, but not enough, because it's George Bush and he did everything wrong.

But it's going to be darn difficult to justify budget increases when clearly a pretty good amount of money is already being wasted.    When people see tips of icebergs, they tend to avoid them.

“The semiannual report raises real questions about how the National Science Foundation manages its resources, and Congress ought to demand a full accounting before it gives the agency another $3 billion in the stimulus bill,” Grassley said.  Well, this is a wake up call but plenty of money is going to be wasted by government employees on things a lot worse than porn so let's hope they don't get too extreme and cancel the whole thing.   It's an embarrassment, and they need to fix it, but it shouldn't be a death sentence when GM uses its government stimulus money to offer 0% financing on SUVs it can't sell any other way.

NSF has wisely installed filters, hopefully to keep this from happening the next time they ask for more money.

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Hat tip: Politico via