With bipartisan support, the NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act (H.R. 5049) passed in the House by roll call vote, 412-9. The bill, introduced by Representative Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), is intended to yield improved financial management and oversight of the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s major (more than $100 million) multi-user research facilities.
The bill also proposes to strengthen accountability and transparency and tighten management control of NSF’s Research Facilities. It is proposed that each new large-scale project will be overseen by a large-facility department within NSF, and a designated senior NSF official will retain direct oversight. NSF will also now reserve control of the majority of the funds during the building phase, rather than an awardee. Audits will take place before construction begins and at least every two years thereafter to ensure building is on track and on budget. Further, it would close loopholes to ensure taxpayer funds are only be used appropriately (and not for nefarious purposes like alcohol, tickets, or unauthorized travel) and supports education of NSF employees on laws that protects whistleblowers. The bill was unanimously reported out of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on April 27th.