Department Of Energy Requires Diversity Plan From Scientific Grant Applicants

( – The Office of Science, part of the United States Department of Energy, which provides 40% of federal funding for research in the physical sciences, according to their website, has added a new requirement for grant proposals. Starting in October 2022, all proposals submitted must include a “Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research” (PIER) Plan. 

The DOE website’s Applicant and Awardee Resources section details the new requirements. The PIER plan cannot simply be a restatement of the institution’s normal policies. However, it can expand on “existing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts.” It must detail the strategies by which the institution intends to recruit members of their research group from diverse backgrounds and “groups historically underrepresented in the research community.” This plan is required to be specific to the project for which the application is being submitted. 

The office defines inclusive and equitable research as an “intentional and ongoing effort” to ensure that people from all backgrounds involved in federally funded research projects are “psychologically and physically safe” while being respected and involved in all aspects of the project, including decision-making. Equity “requires that resources are distributed to provide all project personnel access to opportunity.” 

While the Office of Science claims that the PIER Plan is weighted least significantly of all criteria in the merit review process, the FAQ section makes it clear that applications that do not include a detailed PIER Plan will not be considered. 

Promoting equity above merit has been widely criticized by those who do not subscribe to Progressive ideas.  In an Op-Ed run by The Washington Post in June of 2021, Columnist George F. Will argued that this practice would lead to mediocrity because the most qualified candidate would no longer be the obvious choice, and underqualified people would be given positions in order to fill diversity and inclusion requirements. 

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