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    Overhead on federal research grants is essential

    As a scientist who has spent much of his career in building research programs in academic institutions, I was distressed by the perspective of the article “Research giants win on funding: Fend off US bid to cut overhead payments” (Page A1, March 18). I can assert that the overhead on federal grants is essential, and is often increased by accounting requirements of the grants themselves. In contrast, private foundation grants often do not allow such charges while imposing awkward administrative demands, a significant further financial burden.

    Expecting a research institution to function effectively without paying the full costs of the institution is the equivalent of expecting that the purchase of a 5-gallon can of gasoline will provide a driver and a fully operating automobile ready for indefinite use.

    George M. Woodwell

    Woods Hole

    The writer is founder and director emeritus of the Woods Hole Research Center.