Rep. Johnson, who previously defended NSF social science funding, has a spirited reply to her colleague Rep. Lamar Smith and in particular the questions he raised about specific NSF grants. Here is some of what she said:
“This is the first step on a path that would destroy the merit-based review process at NSF and intrudes political pressure into what is widely viewed as the most effective and creative process for awarding research funds in the world,” Johnson wrote. Peer review may not be perfect, she said, but it depends on those with expertise judging the work. “It means very specifically another scientist with expertise in at least some aspect of the science being proposed. Politicians, even a distinguished Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, cannot be ‘peers’ in any meaningful sense.”
More at Inside Higher Ed. For a previous argument along these lines, see Chris Zorn’s guest post.