Federal health agency SLAMMED for $241 MILLION tax-funded scheme promoting minority scientists who tick DEI boxes, not always the best

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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A federal government health agency is under fire for a $241 million taxpayer-funded scheme to promote scientists from minority backgrounds who tick DEI checklists, rather than the best candidates.

Conservatives are taking aim at the National Institutes of Health’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (First) scheme, which pays universities to hire biomedical researchers in a drive for ‘inclusive excellence.’

The right-leaning National Association of Scholars (NAS) accuses the NIH of putting an ‘ideological agenda’ ahead of quality research, and the transparency watchdog Open the Books calls it a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The NIH did not answer DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

Researchers work in a laboratory at the University of Texas: experts say DEI hiring now encroaches into hard science  

Cornell University has been involved in the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation scheme

Cornell University has been involved in the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation scheme

The case spotlights diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to get more underrepresented talent, such as women and minorities, into desirable jobs, which critics say hurts the chances of straight white men.

In particular, it focuses on the controversial ‘DEI statements’ that have become obligatory for recruitment at many liberal universities, which conservative academics decry as an ideological litmus test.

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According to Open the Books, the First scheme is expected to cost $241 million over nine years.

It has sent grants to 16 colleges since 2021.

Its most recent round of funding of four awards totaled $64 million.

Recent recipients include the University of South Carolina, which received $13 million, the University of New Mexico ($15.6 million) and Northwestern University ($16 million), the group said in a report on Tuesday.

Florida State University, Cornell University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Tuskegee University, have also benefited from the scheme.

NAS fellow John Sailer says the scheme promotes scientists who pay lip-service to DEI, rather than those who are the best at computational biology, genetics, neurobiology, and other research areas.

The National Institutes of Health says it wants to promote 'inclusive excellence.' Pictured: Cancer researchers at Stanford University

The National Institutes of Health says it wants to promote ‘inclusive excellence.’ Pictured: Cancer researchers at Stanford University

Adam Andrzejewski of the watchdog Open the Books says taxpayers are spending $241 million on the diversity hiring binge

Adam Andrzejewski of the watchdog Open the Books says taxpayers are spending $241 million on the diversity hiring binge

Applicants must submit ‘diversity statements,’ and those who say they plan to ‘treat everyone the same’ regardless of skin color are at a disadvantage, says Sailer, who has obtained college rubrics. 

Those who use such DEI buzzwords as ‘equity’ and say they’re pushing for racial justice are more likely to get ahead, it is claimed.

Sailer highlights recruitment at Cornell University, where college documents show that an applicant’s ‘statement on contribution to diversity’ was to ‘receive significant weight in the evaluation.’

‘The information reveals how the NIH enforces an ideological agenda,’ Sailer wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

The agency is ‘prompting universities and medical schools to vet potential biomedical scientists for wrongthink regarding diversity,’ he added.

The NIH scheme and universities are recklessly promoting the wrong candidates at the cost of quality scientific research, he added.

‘In medical research, lives depend on putting excellence first,’ he wrote.

‘The NIH distorts that value, subordinating it to political ideology and endangering those it’s supposed to serve.’

National Association of Scholars fellow John Sailer says anti-DEI 'wrongthink' is penalized

National Association of Scholars fellow John Sailer says anti-DEI ‘wrongthink’ is penalized

The NIH did not answer our queries, but it says on its website that it aims to keep up high standards while also getting more underrepresented groups into laboratories.

The project aims to ‘impact inclusive excellence within research environments and ultimately diversify the biomedical research workforce,’ it says.

For some, DEI schemes are important and necessary, as they help to overcome historical racism and sexism and make it easier for people of all backgrounds to get ahead in schools, colleges, and offices.

But critics say they’re a form of reverse discrimination that blows back on straight, white men.

DEI schemes face a backlash from conservative legal action groups — especially those funded by taxpayers.

The University of Florida last month terminated all DEI positions and shuttered diversity programs in the state’s publicly-funded education system in compliance with new state regulations.

DEI staff now make up more than 3.4 positions for every 100 tenured professors, according to nationwide research by The Heritage Foundation, stoking fears of a ballooning sector that some say is no more than a woke box-ticking exercise.

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