OCTOBER 06, 2010
Still tainted by a major scandal involving officials who view pornography on taxpayer time, the federal agency that funds science research and education has awarded a
The perplexing arts grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) was first reported in a brief that appeared in the Sunday Arts section of the New York Times. The one-paragraph announcement even mentions that the grant is a rare gift to an arts organization from a federal agency that pays for science, engineering and mathematics research and education.
The NSF was created by Congress 60 years ago to promote the progress of science and advance national health. With an annual budget of about $7 billion it’s the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering. The agency also funds about 20% of all research conducted by U.S. colleges and universities.
Financing stage productions is not part of the NSF’s mission nor should it be. The $700,000 play is based on a book called “This Beautiful City” and tells the story of a photojournalist who vanishes while working in the Panamanian rainforests. The theater company says it plans to use the taxpayer money on the “development and evaluation” of the show as well a tour and “educational programs.”
The NSF is still reeling from a major computer porn scandal that rocked all levels of the agency last year. In a scathing report to Congress last fall, the agency’s inspector general revealed that NSF employees spend significant portions of their workdays watching, downloading and e-mailing pornography without ever being caught or disciplined. The porn surfing has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, according to investigators.
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