Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

LANL Funding Rate Questioned.

Byline: Ian Hoffman Journal Staff Writer

Scientists on Panels More Apt To Benefit

Even as politicians battle to restore millions of research dollars trimmed from the nation's nuclear-weapons labs in the heat of security and espionage battles, questions have arisen about how those dollars are divvied up.

A number of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are concerned about whether the monetary awards are truly unbiased, and free of conflicts of interest.

At Los Alamos, for example, scientists can make funding proposals to internal peer-review panels on which they sit, although they must leave the room when their proposals are discussed.

In itself, the policy doesn't necessarily mean Los Alamos' discretionary research is tainted by bias. But the numbers are compelling in last year's competition for slices of about $20 million in "exploratory research" funding.

Scientists who were members of the internal review panels were 6 1/2 times more likely to get money as other lab scientists who made proposals, according to lab figures. …

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