On September 15, George Brown (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, held his second hearing on academic earmarking. The hearing, postponed from August, examined institutions that have actively solicited earmarks and the agencies that were directed to provide the earmarked funds.
Academic earmarking refers to the practice by which congressional members, through the appropriations bill for an agency, specify funds for a particular research program or facility (usually in their own state or district). George Brown has been an active opponent of this process, because he thinks it bypasses the normal competitive, peer-review process by which agencies determine their research funding priorities and because, as chairman of an authorizing committee (one that sets priorities and approves programs but does not provide funds), he sees his committee's role being usurped by appropriators. As Brown stated in his opening remarks, “;Earmarking circumvents the system we have in place that allocates funding based on national needs and competitive merit review.… Earmarked projects often steer agencies away from their stated mission.”