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The National Science Board - A History in Highlights, 1950-2000
Table of Contents | Preface | Acknowledgements | Former Members | Exec Secretaries/Officers | Timeline

The Mansfield Amendment

In FY1968, NSF's budget grew to $505 million but inflation was such that, in constant dollars, the amount awarded was less than the year before. The next year was no better. Late in 1969, an amendment to the Military Authorization Act, introduced by Senator Mike Mansfield (D-WA), confused and alarmed both the defense and civilian research enterprises. The amendment barred the Defense Department from using its funds "to carry out any research project or study unless such project or study has a direct and apparent relationship to a specific military function." The impact on the Foundation was potentially enormous, since Mansfield estimated that certain research projects, which amounted to $311 million, could be dropped or picked up by other agencies, mainly by NSF.

Board member Norman C. Hackerman, chemist and president of Rice University, recalls that the Board debated objecting to "the intrinsic philosophy" of the Mansfield amendment, but decided instead to simply restate its long-held view that many federal agencies should support basic research, not just one. In the end, the Foundation took over sponsorship of some major materials research laboratories, but did not otherwise expand.

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