"The project examined pork-barrel funds steered to specific colleges and universities by Congress for the 2000 fiscal year. Our analysis found that Congress directed government agencies to spend $1.044 billion for such projects, a record amount . . . Although these projects- known as "directed appropriations" or "earmarks"- are increasingly common, some government officials and scholars say that most of them offer little value." Critics claim that "by giving money to specific home-state institutions rather than federal programs that award grants based on scientific merit and competition, lawmakers waste money and neglect critical research needs."