NSF Should Review Stimulus Grants to Scientist Involved in E-Mail Scandal

February 16, 2010

NSF Should Review Stimulus Grants to Scientist Involved in E-Mail Scandal

February 16, 2010

 
Allison C. Lerner
Inspector General
National Science Foundation
Office of Inspector General
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
 
Dear Inspector General Lerner:
 
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlighted that in 2009, NSF approved almost $2.5 million dollars in stimulus funds to pay for work conducted by Dr. Michael Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at The Pennsylvania State University.[1]
 
Dr. Mann became a household name last November when he was identified as one of the key players in e-mails that were released about the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The e-mails demonstrate a pattern of collusion among climatologists who appear to have quashed contrary views on climate change by manipulating climate data, and by pressuring journals to not publish materials from scientists they deemed “skeptics.”
 
As a result of these revelations, several government and educational institutions have initiated investigations into the matter, including The Pennsylvania State University’s internal inquiry into allegations of research misconduct against Dr. Mann.
 
The Pennsylvania State University issued a report on that inquiry on February 3 and concluded that an investigation was required as one of the four allegations warranted further scrutiny:
 
Given that information emerged in the form of the emails purloined from CRU in November 2009, which have raised questions in the public’s mind about Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research activity, given that this may be undermining confidence in his findings as a scientist, and given that it may be undermining public trust in science in general and climate science specifically, the inquiry committee believes an investigatory committee of faculty peers from diverse fields should be constituted under RA-10 to further consider this allegation.[2]
 
This is not the first time Dr. Mann has found himself under investigation for his academic practices. In 2006, “similar questions were asked about Dr. Mann and these questions motivated the National Academy of Sciences to undertake an in-depth investigation of his research.”[3]While Dr. Mann was exonerated, it is troubling to note his reemergence within the context of the CRU e-mails.
 
We understand the NSF grants to Dr. Mann were made prior to the revelation of the CRU e-mails. However, conversations with NSF staff on February 4 revealed that no steps have been taken to freeze or withdraw the stimulus funds authorized for Dr. Mann’s research. In light of the many questions and concerns raised by the CRU e-mails, highlighted in part by The Pennsylvania State University’s decision to further investigate Dr. Mann, we encourage you to immediately initiate an independent investigation into this matter. We respectfully request your response to our letter by March 5, 2010.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
 
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.                                          
Ranking Member                                                             
Select Committee on Energy Independence                   
and Global Warming                                                        
 
Darrell Issa
Ranking Member 
Committee on Oversight
and Government Reform 
 
cc: The Honorable Ed Markey, Chairman
      The Honorable Edolphus Towns, Chairman
 


[1]    The Wall Street Journal, Michael Mann's Climate Stimulus, January 20, 2010, found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704541004575010931344004278.html.
[2]     RA-10 Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, February 3, 2010, by RA-10 Inquiry Committee for the Case of Dr. Michael E. Mann: Henry C. Foley, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, Alan W. Scaroni, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Candice A. Yekel, M.S., CIM,, Director, Office for Research Protections, Research Integrity Officer, found at http://www.research.psu.edu/orp/Findings_Mann_Inquiry.pdf.
[3]     Id.

 


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