MEMORANDUM FOR THE
NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL
FROM: JOHN H. GIBBONS ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGYThe past 8 months have been an extremely productive and challenging time for the federal science and technology enterprise. I am pleased to provide you with a status report on the activities of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) that reflects many accomplishments.
SUBJECT: NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL STATUS REPORT (JANUARY--AUGUST 1995)
The NSTC Committees, with the general R&D budget priorities in mind, developed a list of recommended general strategic focus areas for the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program. On May 28, 1995, I asked the Agency and Department Heads to give careful consideration to these recommendations when developing their SBIR Program solicitation notices.
Significant NSTC and member agency/department attention was focused on the FY 1996 budgets. Attached are several budget related news clips, including a copy of the August/September 1995 issue of the New York Academy of Sciences' newsletter Focus that was distributed to 46,000 members of the Academy. This newsletter includes an article, based on my June 12, 1995, address to the Academy's Science Policy Association, reflecting my belief that the budget cuts proposed by Congress are "too deep, too fast." For your information, I have also included a copy of the speech.
In implementing reforms of the federal laboratory systems, the agencies will be asked to adhere to the following general guidelines and principles:
The Task Force identified a set of overarching and operational principles essential to the development and flourishing of any State-Federal partnership. Their report offers 4 recommendations, under the following headings:
The NBAC will be appointed by the President from knowledgeable non-government experts and community representatives with special qualifications and competence to deal effectively with bioethical issues of concern to the participating departments and agencies. As a first priority, the Commission will direct its attention to consideration of issues in the management and use of genetic information and protection of the rights and welfare of research subjects.
- Second and Third Plenary Meetings: The PCAST's second plenary meeting was held on March 27-28, 1995. The NSTC Associate Directors provided an update of current and planned NSTC Committee activities, followed by PCAST panel progress reports by panel chairpersons. A series of special presentations regarding investing in science and technology and the nature of technology partnership programs were given. Senior agency/department representatives from NASA, DoE, and DoD shared the results of their internal laboratory reviews. During this meeting, the PCAST authorized for release to the President, the report of the PCAST Panel on U.S.-Russian Cooperation to Protect, Control and Account for Weapons-Useable Nuclear Materials.
The remainder of the second plenary session was devoted to the discussion of science and technology policy issues with Representative Robert S. Walker, Chair of the House Science Committee, and Representative George Brown, Ranking Minority Member of the House Science Committee. At the conclusion of the second plenary meeting, the PCAST issued the attached budget related statement reflecting their belief that in "the debate over national spending priorities, we must take time to assess carefully the impact of proposed cuts on our Nation's ability to maintain world-class science and technology." This statement recognizes the need to maintain a robust research and development portfolio--an investment "essential to our Nation's long term prosperity and security.
The PCAST held its third plenary meeting July 11-12, 1995. The Committee discussed specific issues related to the U.S. science and technology enterprise and its ability to create new knowledge that is essential for achieving national goals. These issues included the long-term health of the U.S. research university system, and strategic considerations for improving federal science and technology capabilities in a time of government downsizing. The Committee raised several of these concerns with the President and Vice President. The Committee also heard the report of the PCAST Fusion Review Panel, and authorized its transmission to the President.
- Report of the Fusion Review Panel titled The U.S. Program of Fusion Energy: In July 1995, the PCAST's Fusion Review Panel published a report that provided a thoughtful and technically sound scheme for restructuring the U.S. fusion program, at a substantially reduced level of funding. The PCAST report supports the President's policy of treating research and development as a key long term investment. It underscores the importance of fusion as an attractive -- possibly essential -- energy source for our nation in the middle of the next century and beyond. The large scale of fusion experimental technology, the long time to commercialization, and recent extraordinary achievements argue for continued strong federal support within the Department of Energy. Further, the report indicates that international collaboration is necessary for demonstrating practical fusion energy. The panel recommended that the U.S. invest in magnetic fusion energy research at $320 million per year, through the next decade. The PCAST also evaluated the consequences of a more dramatically reduced budget proposal, concluding that, if so reduced, the program would lose essential elements and halt progress toward the fusion goal. Thus, if the U.S. is to sustain its commitment to plasma science and fusion technology, federal support at the PCAST recommended level would be required. The report was submitted to Congress and the President.
- Science and Technology Principles: At the third plenary session, the PCAST decided to prepare a report for the President detailing a set of principles intended to aid the Administration and Congress in evaluating FY 1997 budget options. The final report, scheduled for submittal to the President in September 1995, is consistent with the Administration's policy statements Science in the National Interest (August 1994) and Technology for America's Future Growth (February 1993), but also reflects the current debate driven both by fiscal stringencies and by differing views about federal responsibility. We will forward a copy of this document to you following its transmittal.
- Forum on Future Directions in Transportation R&D: The NSTC Committee on Transportation R&D, and the National Academy of Sciences, co-sponsored this forum on March 6 and 7, 1995. The purpose of the forum was to solicit input, principally from private industry, to help the Department of Transportation and the NSTC guide future transportation research. Several hundred people participated in this public forum. Findings/Proceedings from this meeting will be publicly available in October 1995.
- Science in the National Interest Regional Meetings: In August 1994, Science in the National Interest was released. This policy document presents the first formal statement by the Administration on science policy since 1979. Released by Vice President Gore, Science in the National Interest links scientific research and education to the broad national goals of health, prosperity, national security, environmental responsibility, and improved quality of life. As a means of engaging a broad range of stakeholders--state and local governments, academia, and private industry--NSTC has participated in a series of regional meetings. To date, regional meetings have been held in Massachusetts, Texas, Florida and California.
- Colloquium on Assessing the Contribution of Fundamental Science: The NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science sponsored a forum on May 17, 1995. One purpose of the forum was to bring together scientists, policymakers, research managers, assessment practitioners, and stakeholders to discuss the new emphasis on programmatic accountability as it may affect fundamental science. A second purpose was to develop issues and options for building assessment strategies that will fully represent the contribution of science to the national well-being. At this colloquium, diverse members of the public and private scientific enterprise probed the complexities of the new assessment environment and explored methods that might be adapted to fundamental science. Key themes from the background studies, workshop, and colloquium have been summarized in a series of six reports-- one published in 1994, the others to be published in late 1995. The NSTC is drafting a paper that identifies a set of principles and other information for use by Federal science agencies in designing and testing methods for improved assessment of fundamental science. This paper is expected to be published by the end of calendar year 1995.
- The Role of Science and Technology in Promoting National Security and Global Stability: The NSTC Committee for National Security and Committee on International Science Engineering and Technology and Environment, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science co-hosted a 2-day forum. The purpose of this March 29-30, 1995, forum was to explore ways of using the science and technology enterprise to advance the goals of greater national security, sustainable development, and economic prosperity. The forum enabled open discussion of our Nation's ability to most effectively organize and use our science and technology enterprise to support: national security; nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; economic competitiveness; global stability; and sustainable development. The National Security Science and Technology Strategy was completed in August 1995, and is scheduled for release at an event on September 19, 1995.
- America in the Age of Information: A Forum on Federal Information and Communications R&D: On July 6-7, 1995, the NSTC Committee on Information and Communications R&D sponsored this forum as a follow-on activity to the publication of their March 1995 Strategic Planning Document. The purpose of the forum was to obtain community comment on, enhancement to, and refinement of the Plan in order to address national goals and to be responsive to the needs of the American workforce and citizenry. White Papers were solicited from university organizations, professional societies, industrial organizations, other Federal and State organizations, and concerned citizens on subjects addressed in this Strategic Implementation Plan. Authors of selected White Papers presented their papers and participated in a discussion at the forum.
- Forum on Emerging Infectious Diseases: The NSTC Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology Policy (CISET) sponsored a public forum on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases on July 25, 1995. At the forum, the NSTC CISET Working Group released a report, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases. The relationship between infectious disease, public health, and national security was discussed before several hundred participants, including many members of the press.
- Making it Happen: First in the World in Science and Mathematics Education: The July 26-27, 1995 forum Making it Happen: First in the World in Science and Mathematics Education was designed to elicit discussion and debate about policy options for producing the finest scientists and engineers for the future and improving science literacy for all Americans. This NSTC sponsored national forum brought together a broad range of stakeholders--over 200 experts from academia, private industry, consumer groups, and state and Federal government--to identify the critical issues, discuss the current status of their collective efforts, and to address the country's short and long-term objectives. The forum was co-sponsored by the NSTC Committees on Fundamental Science and Education and Training.
- Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) Symposia: In February and September 1995, the Vice President hosted two symposia on technical areas related to the PNGV project. The February 1995 symposium focused on the subject of materials, while the September 1995 symposium discussed energy storage. Scientist and engineers working in these subject matter areas, from the public, private, and university sectors, were invited to participate.
- NSTC Strategic Plans: In March 1995, each of the nine NSTC committees--Fundamental Science; Health, Safety, and Food; Environment and Natural Resources; Information and Communications; National Security; Civilian Industrial Technology; Transportation; Education and Training; and International Science, Engineering and Technology--published strategic planning documents that articulate the goals and objectives of their specific science and technology areas. These plans identified the major goals of each Committee, the relevant policy issues and questions confronting the Committee and the scientific/technological goals and research priorities necessary to achieve the goals. This strategic planning activity required the agencies to review major science and technology initiatives in terms of appropriate agency roles, milestones, performance measures, resources, private sector input and international issues.
- 1995 Biennial National Critical Technologies Report: The Office of Science and Technology Policy's March 1995 National Critical Technologies Report addresses the state of development of 27 critical technologies and the U.S. competitive position relative to Europe and Japan. The principal areas covered by the report are energy, environmental quality, information and communication, living systems, manufacturing, materials and transportation. The report notes that the U.S. is at parity with, or ahead of, Europe and Japan for all 27 areas. Nevertheless, Japan is outpacing the U.S. in 10 areas and Europe is outpacing the U.S. in four areas. NSTC and PCAST members were integral in developing the report.
- Preparing for the Future Through Science and Technology, An Agenda for Environmental and Natural Resources Research was published in March 1995. This multidisciplinary strategy provides the scientific and technical information needed for national and international policy formulation and to assure the most efficient use of scarce research and development resources. The strategy was developed by NSTC, with assistance from stakeholders from academia, industry, and state and local governments.
- Inventions Needed for Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) was published, in the spring 1995, to highlight the research areas requiring focus and identify federal funding sources for this research. Guidance was provided to the intended audience-- the private and university sectors--on obtaining this funding.
- Bridge to a Sustainable Future: As a follow-on to Technology for a Sustainable Future, Bridge to a Sustainable Future was published in April 1995. This national environmental technology strategy focuses on five themes--Performance, Flexibility, and Accountability; Innovation for Environmental Results; Commercialization; Sustainable Communities; and Learning and Working Together. The report also presents findings, goals and initiatives that collectively articulate a technological path that will lead us to sustainable development. In reaction to these environmental technology statements, Molten Metal Technology, Inc. (MMT) and the World Resources Institute co-sponsored an event on July 21, 1995, at MMT's R&D Recycling Facility in Fall River, Massachusetts. The purpose of this gathering was to provide a small number of concerned and committed leaders from industry, academia, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) and government with the opportunity to participate in informal, off-the-record discussions. The 25 participants explored novel approaches to achieving sustainable development, through the use of environmental technologies. I participated in a panel discussion titled "Government, Environmental NGO, Industry and Academic Leadership in Advancing Environmental Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities."
- Report of the PCAST Panel on U.S.-Russian Cooperation to Protect, Control, and Account for Weapons-Useable Nuclear Materials was presented to the President, Vice President, White House Chief of Staff, the National Security Adviser and his Deputy, the Vice President's National Security Adviser and other National Security Council (NSC) and OSTP staff on May 1, 1995. Subsequent briefings were provided to the Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of Energy, and the interagency Standing Committee on Non-proliferation, among others. After the White House briefing, the President immediately directed the NSC to act on all of the PCAST recommendations and a work plan was forwarded to the President within days. The briefing served as a catalyst for drafting, on the same day as the briefing, proposed language for a summit statement on expanding fissile materials cooperation. After some negotiation, President Clinton and President Yeltsin issued a statement from the summit calling for accelerated and expanded cooperation to secure and account for nuclear materials, and directing the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission to prepare a joint report on additional steps that should be taken. Working closely with OSTP staff, the NSC has prepared a draft Presidential Decision Directive highlighting the urgency and importance of this problem, and directing agencies to implement the principal recommendations of the PCAST report.
- High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) FY 1996 Implementation Plan: On May 14, 1995, the National Coordination Office for HPCC published their FY 1996 implementation plan for the HPCC program. The plan, formulated by the multi-agency HPCC, implements the overall objectives embodied in the FY 1996 HPCC annual report titled "High Performance Computing and Communications: Foundation for America's Information Future" that accompanied the President's budget.
- CISET's Report on Emerging and Reemerging Diseases: A U.S. Government interagency working group was convened in December 1994, to consider the global threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The NSTC working group included representatives from more than 17 different government agencies and departments. They reviewed the U.S. role in detection, reporting, and response to outbreaks of new and re-emerging infectious diseases and made a number of recommendations in a report that was released in July 1995. The report noted the extraordinary resiliency of infectious microbes and that the sharp increase in the incidence of many infectious diseases is complex and not fully understood. At the same time, the working group unequivocally stated that the costs of infectious diseases are staggering, while the cost-effectiveness of disease prevention has been repeatedly demonstrated. The report cited the need for U.S. leadership in order to establish international coordination of infectious disease prevention efforts and build a global infectious diseases network.
- Goals for a National Partnership in Aeronautics Research and Technology: Publicly released by the Clinton Administration in September 1995, this report was prepared by an interagency working group of the NSTC, in cooperation with industry and academia. It presents the Administration's vision and goals for future Federal investments in aeronautics and aviation research and technology. The research agenda outlined in this report is meant to achieve three fundamental goals--maintaining the superiority of U.S. aircraft and engines; improving the safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of the global air transportation system; and ensuring the long-term environmental compatibility of the aviation system.
- National Security Science and Technology Strategy: This report outlines the Administration's national security priorities in science and technology, and identifies the federal investments and cooperative programs needed to achieve these national security objectives. The report recognizes that the challenges of international leadership and national security are growing more complex, while our investment resources are shrinking. The strategy was published in September 1995 to seize the opportunities and meet the new challenges of the post-Cold War era, by putting science and technology to the service of national security and global stability.
Attached is a bibliography of all NSTC publications, to date.