Recommendations of Hart-Rudman National Security Report:
to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can
think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science,
technology, and education for the common good over the next quarter
Commission on National Security for the 21st Century
As reported in FYI
#21, the Hart-Rudman Commission
on National Security for the 21st Century has recommended a series of
reforms that are intended to enable the government to address the national
security challenges of the new century. Several major recommendations
deal with the nation's scientific research and education enterprises.
The report states, "We have made Recapitalizing America's Strengths
in Science and Education the second section of this report despite the
fact that science management and education issues are rarely ranked as
paramount national security priorities. We do so to emphasize their crucial
and growing importance."
This FYI highlights
the specific recommendations for the nation's science enterprise, along
with supporting quotes from the report. FYI #23
will address the recommendations for education.
I. "The President
should propose, and the Congress should support, doubling the U.S. government's
investment in science and technology research and development by 2010."
the report calls for more funding of basic research and technology development.
"We stand on the cusp of major discoveries in several interlocking
fields, and we stand to benefit, as well, from major strides in scientific
instrumentation. As a result, the way is clear to design large- scale
scientific and technological experiments in key fields - not unlike
the effort of the International Geophysical Year in 1958, the early
space program, or the project to decode the human genome. In the judgment
of this Commission, the U.S. government has not taken a broad, systematic
approach to investing in science and technology R&D, and thus will not
be able to sustain projects of such scale and boldness."
II. "The President
should empower his Science Advisor to establish non-military R&D objectives
that meet changing national needs, and to be responsible for coordinating
budget development within the relevant departments and agencies."
While the Commission
recommends against a single federal S&T agency, it notes that "the
government has to better coordinate" its R&D efforts. "It is
not possible to spend $80 billion wisely each year, let alone twice
that much, unless we know where research bottlenecks and opportunities
exist. There is no one place in the U.S. government where such inventory
stewardship is performed." The report suggests "that OSTP, in
conjunction with the National Science Foundation - and with the counsel
of the National Academies of Science - design a system for the ongoing
basic inventory stewardship of the nation's capital knowledge assets."
According to the
Commission, much of the federal R&D budget "still reflects legacies
of the Cold War and the Industrial Age. We do not suggest that this
money is being wasted in any direct sense, but its benefits are not
being maximized. For example, we believe that defense-related R&D should
go back to funding more basic research, for in recent years it has tilted
too much toward the 'D' over the 'R' in R&D. More important, we could
derive more benefit from our investment in non-defense R&D if the context
for it were a more competitive one." The Commission therefore suggests
"that the President's Science Advisor, beyond his proposed budget
coordination role, should lead an effort to revise government R&D practices
and budget allocations to make the process more competitive." It
also proposes "that the government foster a 'creative market' for
a greater number of research institutions to bid on government research
funds," and suggests "that a strengthened and more active National
Science and Technology Council preside over an on-going effort to multiply
creative, targeted R&D programs within government."
III. "The President
should propose, and the Congress should fund, the reorganization of the
national laboratories, providing individual laboratories with new mission
goals that minimize overlap."
finds the U.S. national laboratories "remain a national R&D treasure,"
but are "badly in need of redefinition and new investment.... Without
any compelling force analogous to that of the Cold War to drive government
funding and the direction of R&D, the labs have been left to drift.
Nuclear research has given way mostly to maintenance of the nation's
nuclear arsenal and efforts to dismantle nuclear weapons and manage
their radioactive wastes. But...these are tasks that a single major
laboratory can handle." The report continues, "the labs remain
critical in fulfilling America's S&T national security needs and in
addressing S&T issues pertinent to the public good. Each major laboratory
needs a clearly defined mission area."
The report also
warns that, in addition to deterioration of the labs' physical infrastructure,
"the security breaches and the subsequent series of investigations
in recent years have produced a serious morale problem - and made recruitment
and retention problems even more acute. If this cycle is not broken,
our national advantage in S&T will suffer further."
the report states that "the potential for good and ill stemming from
many of the recent developments in the scientific and technical domain
is at least as great, if not greater, than that of atomic energy....
New scientific discovery and innovation in information technologies,
nanotechnology, and biotechnologies will have a major impact on social,
economic, and political life in the United States and elsewhere."
The Commission describes the need for "a public-trust institution...to
gather knowledge and to develop informed judgment as the basis for public
policy. We especially need a permanent framework that brings public
sector, private sector, and higher education together to examine the
implications of today's technological revolution." In order to provide
"a forum for the articulation of all responsible interests in the
implications of new biotechnology and other new technologies," the
Commission recommends "that Congress transform the current National
Bioethics Advisory Commission into a much strengthened National Advisory
Commission on Bioscience."
The full report,
"Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change," is available
Media and Government
American Institute of Physics
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