“We were surprised to see that the genomic center scores of the top two applications were based on the reviewers removing from consideration the poorest performing center-initiated projects. The fact that the reviewers could propose removal of individual center-initiated projects was never mentioned in the RFA.
“Even more appalling is that this was applied only to the two applications (that) ended up with the highest scores. The end result is that two centers' scores were artificially inflated to 88 and 82, respectively. Despite this uneven application of the review process, two other applications received Tier 1 (recommended for funding) scores. This appearance of preferential treatment makes the process suspect."
“This comment...suggests that other applications did offer to provide extra money for their (genomic) centers. Since there was no written request for additional funds, and we were not informed that contributions would be expected or considered as a measure of scientific merit, we were put at a significant disadvantage.”
(On Jan. 27, the agency released a statement defending its procedures. An item dealing with that can be found here.)