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1992 Clinton elected President Screenshot of Web Browser 1992 Congress Cancels Superconducting SuperCollider NSB Chair Duderstadt - NSF Director Massey
The National Science Board - A History in Highlights, 1950-2000
Table of Contents | Preface | Acknowledgements | Former Members | Exec Secretaries/Officers | Timeline

Beleaguered Industry

The end of the Cold War prompted the question of what priorities should guide U.S. industry in its multibillion-dollar expenditure on R&D. Former NSB Chair Roland Schmitt and TRW, Inc., Vice President Arden Bement, an industrialist on the Board, issued a 1992 report citing "significant gaps in U.S. industrial R&D strength" due to lagging investment and poor distribution of effort. The report said companies were spending too much on defense R&D at the expense of innovation that could invigorate the civilian sector. These ideas foreshadowed the Clinton Administration's 1993 manifesto, Technology for America's Growth.

At the same time, the Board was engaged in a more ambitious effort to define how NSF-funded research could better help industry and the Nation. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who oversaw NSF's appropriations, had declared that seventy percent of Foundation funds should be allocated for "strategic" research, which alarmed those at the Foundation who took "strategic" to mean "applied." Just as worrisome to some on the Board was that organizing NSF according to strategic directions risked creating institutional rigidities incompatible with the evolutionary, fluid nature of discovery-what is an appropriate strategic goal today might not be tomorrow.

The Board appointed an outside commission co-chaired by Robert Galvin, chairman of Motorola, and William Danforth of Washington University. Duderstadt says the commission was "to interact with the broader scientific community to get a better sense of what the Foundation should be." The Danforth-Galvin report in 1993 argued that NSF-funded basic research could play a larger role in the Nation if it had clearer links to industry and other national needs.

Through a committee chaired by Cornell University president Frank Rhodes, the Board offered assistance to John S. Gibbons, President Clinton's Science Advisor, "in developing a process for scientific priority-setting," Duderstadt says. While this particular effort didn't bear fruit, it provided a foundation for later policy recommendations on the part of the Board that would be more successful.

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