Fifty-seven of the nation's best young researchers came to Washington,
D.C., on 4 May to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for
Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). But while the outstanding scientists
were soaking up the well-deserved recognition, officials from the eight
agencies that nominated winners were clucking at some extraordinary
foot dragging by the Bush Administration.
Belated recognition. The National Science Foundation's contingent of 2002 PECASE winners.
CREDIT: PATRICK BALLOU
starters, the prize was for 2002. Yes, 2002. The names of the awardees
were actually submitted nearly 2 years ago but apparently fell into a
bureaucratic black hole. "It's a very sad thing, the delay," says one
agency official. "I hope it doesn't say something about the importance
of science to this Administration."
takes a real bite out of some agency budgets. That's because of a
policy at some agencies that requires an honoree to hold 5 years of
agency funding at the time of the award. For the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), for example, that meant extending some research grants,
which average $350,000 a year, for another 2 years to make sure all of
its 11 winners were covered.
fill only four of its six slots because of the financial burden of the
5-year funding rule. "There were some funding constraints in 2002, so
we didn't request additional dollars," explains Vicky Thorne, who heads
NASA's career management office. And NIH had two of its candidates
nixed at the last minute because they weren't U.S. citizens or
permanent residents, says Walter Schaffer of the extramural research
about the 2003 winners, whose names were submitted last summer? A White
House spokesperson says to look for an announcement later this year.
PECASE press release with the names of the winners (pdf)