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Washington, D.C.— The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today that it
was ending a system that based performance evaluations for its scientists in part
on how much money the scientists raise to support their research projects. The
sudden turnaround came in response to media inquiries following the revelation
earlier this week by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
of explicit agency fundraising quotas as part of scientist ratings used for promotions
and raises.

Under the now former Bureau of Reclamation system that was put in place only
this past March, scientists were tasked with finding private, state and other
federal sponsors to buy the scientists’ time. Fundraising quotas increased
with the scientist’s pay grade. Thus, a scientist at the GS-11 pay level
or higher had to solicit a minimum of $110,000 to avoid an “unsatisfactory”
rating and a minimum of more than $500,000 to earn an “exceptional”
performance rating.

“This fee-for-science scheme obviously could not withstand the slightest
bit of public scrutiny,” said PEER Program Director Rebecca Roose. “It
remains to be seen whether scientist fundraising quotas are renounced in name
only or whether these federal scientists will be allowed to concentrate on doing
their jobs.”

Even as the Bureau of Reclamation takes a step back from fusing fundraising
into scientific endeavors, another Department of Interior agency, the U.S. Geological
Survey, is moving ahead with plans to have its scientists raise 20 percent of
their salaries.

These cash-strapped Interior agencies hope to get interested “partners”
to underwrite or share the cost of research projects. While, in many cases,
potential research partners are other federal bureaus, state agencies or universities,
in some instances, scientists are being asked to solicit oil companies, irrigators
and other development interests.

“Turning scientists into fundraisers has conflict of interest written
all over it,” Roose added.

By contrast, the National Institutes of Health, after adverse publicity about
financial arrangements that its scientists had with drug companies, has banned
all financial and much non-financial interaction between its staff and outside
interests. The research fundraising system at Interior would be flatly prohibited
if subject to the new NIH rules.

“Interior and NIH are both federal agencies operating under what are
supposed to be the same set of rules but at NIH, scientists are confined to
a financial nunnery while at Interior, the scientists are being turned into
streetwalkers,” Roose concluded.


the BuRec Marketing Productivity Evaluation Standards guidelines for fundraising

at U.S. Geological Survey fundraising directive

Phone: 202-265-7337

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Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

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