NSF Funding Amendment, Part II

Erik Voeten at the Monkey Cage with an update on the amendment that cuts NSF funding for political science programs. A version of the amendment passed the House with a vote of 218-208. You can see the breakdown of the votes here (thanks for Erik for so conveniently providing the link to the votes). Erik also notes a couple of important points: 1) This is not the end of the issue, and 2) No other discipline was singled out in the same way as political science. 

Other interesting facts:

  1. Jeff Flake has a BA in International Relations (see his official House bio page).
  2. Jeff Flake has an MA in Political Science (see his official House bio page).
  3. As described above, political science appears to have been singled out. In 2011 political science programs were awarded approximately $21 million dollars. Keep in mind these are awarded amounts, and do not reflect the actual amount spent in a given year. The Duck of Minerva makes reference to actual annual expenditures being something closer to $9 million. 
  4. Economics programs were awarded $55 million in 2011. If we assume a similar pattern applies, that means econ programs are getting somewhere around $23 million per year in actual appropriations.
  5. Sociology programs were awarded approximately $15.5 million, working out to be about $6.7million per year.

Political science awards do not even come close to what economics programs are awarded each year. Consequently, I'm not entirely sure what the fiscal justification for this cut can be. To single out only political science in this way would seem to indicate the gripe is more substantive than fiscal. If not, then why not make a flat cut of 10%-20% across all BSES programs? Spread the cuts evenly? You could cut the annual econ awards by half and that would be the equivalent of cutting all of the annual political science awards AND some of the sociology program. So, what gives?

There is probably a better/more efficient source for summary information than what I used, but you can search NSF records of programs and awards here. My estimates of yearly expenditures are extremely rough. Again, it's important to note that these are awarded amounts, not what is actually spent each year. There is going to be overlap from one year to the next as programs are often funded over the course of a couple of years. There is also some degree of overlap between programs as well. Accordingly, the figures provided should be taken as rough guidelines/comparisons, as well as with a healthy grain of salt. If anyone has a link to actual annual expenditure statistics by program, as opposed to awards, please share. I did a quick search this morning but didn't find anything more helpful than this particular source. 

Michael Flynn

About Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2013. His research focuses on the political and economic determinants of foreign economic and security policy, security issues, and state repression.

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