CUTS, CUTS, CUTS...
How much more will the Smithsonian lose? Read a memorandum protesting the closing of the Academy Award winning Smithsonian Productions.
In a letter to the Smithsonian Institution's Board
of Regents, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) has called
on that body to reconsider its agreement with a private donor to
establish a Hall of Fame for American Achievers at the National Museum of
American History (NMAH).
To read more about the story check the Press section.
Reorganization = Deconstruction of Science?
Secretary Small's reorganization will drastically reduce the support for research at the Institution, not --against all of his assertions--improve the functioning of research. He is attempting to separate research from the exhibits/education/public programs parts of the Institution. In 2000, he reorganized the staff of the National Zoological Park, moving all research staff under the Conservation and Research Center. Eight months later, he announced the closing of CRC, thereby eliminating research at the National Zoo. He then proposed keeping some research staff downtown, but these were the research staff who had not been part of the CRC until 2000. Moving all research under CRC also increased the budget for the CRC, making the proposed closing more impressive financially.
Small now proposes a similar reorganization for the rest of science at the Smithsonian. For example, he will move all biology curators at the National Museum of Natural History into an Institution-wide biology institute, which will sever their relationship to exhibits/education/public programs. Biologists believe that, as with CRC, their research positions will then be eliminated or redirected away from natural history. The move of the research staff from their individual bureaus, such as the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, etc., we view as an attempt to break down the Congress's line item control over the Smithsonian budget. Once Congress allows Small to move the positions from the various bureaus, with line item budgets, to one central account, Small will be able to move money and positions around at will, without going to the Congress for permission to reprogram funds given for a specific line item. It will also be easier to eliminate the research staff of an Institute for Biology than it would be for the beloved National Museum of Natural History, the most visited museum at the Smithsonian last year.
Small remained secretive about the reorganization of the Smithsonian, saying that he could not reveal details of his plans until after the May 7th Board of Regents meeting. Now that the Regent's meeting is over, scientists and the public have STILL NOT been notified or consulted about the shape of the reorganizations. The Smithsonian Institution is a public institution, a public trust, which should not hide its plans and decision-making process from the American people who fund most of its operations.
The actions taken by Small so far have damaged trust between the staff and the administration, damaged SI morale, and damaged the Smithsonian's reputation.
We believe that these actions threaten the core of the Smithsonian and its mission. The Smithsonian is not a private corporation but a public institution. The reorganization plans and their true intent need to be discussed with broad input by scientists, Congress, and the public. We believe that this can only be achieved through HEARINGS in the House and Senate. Please, write to your Representatives in the Senate and the House, express your concern over the recent changes and events at the Smithsonian and ask that hearings on the issue be held.