1994 National Science and Technology
Council Annual Report
National Science and Technology
Council Accomplishments - 1994
ORIGINS OF THE NSTC
The creation of a cabinet level council to coordinate federal science
and technology activities was a recommendation of the National
Performance Review. A National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) was
proposed as a mechanism to more forcefully direct science and technology
policy. It was designed to streamline the White House advisory apparatus
by combining the functions of the Federal Coordinating Council for
Science, Engineering, and Technology (FCCSET), the National Space Council
and the National Critical Materials Council. The establishment of the
NSTC as a cabinet level council would elevate the visibility and priority
of science and technology policy to a point commensurate with its relevance.
On November 23, 1993, President Clinton signed Executive Order 12881
creating the National Science and Technology Council. The Council is chaired
by the President. Membership consists of the Vice President, the
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology; and the Cabinet
Secretaries and agency heads with responsibility for significant science
and technology programs, and other key White House Officials.
The principal functions of the Council are (1) to coordinate the science
and technology policy-making process; (2) to ensure science and technology
policy decisions and programs are consistent with the President's stated
goals; (3) to help integrate the President's science and technology policy
agenda across the Federal Government; (4) to ensure science and
technology are considered in development and implementation of Federal
policies and programs; and (5) to further international cooperation in
science and technology.
The NSTC is a model of how those seeking to reinvent Government can work
with existing resources and create a more efficient and effective process to
serve the needs and advance the goals of the American people. In the
words of President Clinton, "Science and technology are essential tools
for achieving this Administration's goals: for strengthening the economy,
creating high quality jobs, protecting the environment, improving our
health care and education systems, and maintaining our national
security." The NSTC has proven itself to be an effective means to
advance the federal science and technology agenda and to provide a
mechanism for development and implementation of programs to achieve
Perhaps the overarching accomplishment of the NSTC in its first year is
the extent to which it has assumed its role as a virtual agency to coordinate
science and technology policymaking. The NSTC functions as a coalition
of agencies who come together to increase efficiency and advance science and
technology by coordinating their efforts, dividing tasks and sharing
resources. By itself, the NSTC does not fund projects or conduct research.
Its role is to enable existing resources to be directed more effectively
and to serve as the primary forum for interagency communication. By
creating this forum for direct communication among agencies, the NSTC
cuts through bureaucracy and encourages the identification of common
goals and objectives.
In 1994, the NSTC focussed its efforts to improve the federal science
and technology enterprise in several areas: the R&D budget process;
improving the efficiency of federal S&T programs; and considering issues
of accountability within the enterprise.
THE R&D BUDGET PROCESS
When President Clinton created the NSTC in November 1993, he identified
as one of its most critical tasks the undertaking of an across-the-board
review of federal spending on research and development. The President
asked the NSTC to prepare coordinated R&D budget recommendations for
accomplishing national objectives with the focus on broad national goals
rather than agency missions. In 1994, the NSTC engaged in an
unprecedented effort to develop a coherent set of goals for federal R&D
programs. The resulting principles and priorities gave strategic
direction to the R&D budget development process for FY 1996.
As the first step in this process, each of the NSTC Committees
identified strategic goals and objectives and research priorities within
their respective areas. The Committees sought input from a wide spectrum
of stakeholders including private industry, academia and the public. A
combined NSTC/Office of Management and Budget working group refined these
into a coherent set of guiding principles.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology issued a joint budget
guidance memorandum in May 1994 to convey these guiding principles to
the heads of agencies and departments. Agencies were instructed to use this
strategic guidance in the development of their FY 1996 budget
submissions. Agency budget requests were to reflect the identified
priorities and goals.
The R&D priorities developed cooperatively between OMB and the NSTC
Committees were then used in the FY 1996 R&D Data Collection and Review
process. Eight priority areas were identified for assessment and
analysis to measure how well cross-cutting goals and policy issues were
being addressed. The NSTC Committees were asked to provide summaries of
each of these priority areas for use by OMB and the Office of Science
and Technology Policy (OSTP) in preparing the President's FY 1996 budget
As a result of this effort, the Administration's goals were more clearly
reflected in budget submissions. The information provided by the Committees
enabled OSTP to assist OMB in analysis of agency budget submissions. In
1995, the NSTC will work toward refining this process of identifying priorities
through the NSTC strategic planning initiative and providing earlier
guidance to the agencies as they prepare their FY 1997 R&D budgets.
This will enable the Administration to ensure that, in a time of limited
funding, the highest priorities of the nation will be advanced.
STRATEGIC PLANNING INITIATIVE
Because the NSTC Committees span the entire Federal R&D enterprise, they
provide an excellent vehicle for discussing the appropriate focus of federal
research efforts and planning future endeavors. Over the past year, the
Committees were engaged in an effort to develop strategic planning documents
that further articulate the goals and objectives of specific science and
technology areas in the President's FY 1996 budget submission to Congress.
These plans identify 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. Each Committee attempted to address the research priorities
identified in their area by identifying program goals and plans to
accomplish these priorities. 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. This effort
was a major initiative in the Committees' first year with tangible
products endorsed by the NSTC member agencies.
These strategic plans are not an end unto themselves but rather a means
to achieve national goals. Each plan differs in approach and detail, just as
each Committee has a different history, composition, and perspective.
Each plan is central to the NSTC activities, and all will be refined over time.
Since strategic planning is a continuing, evolving task, the plans will
be periodically reassessed and revised. Although the plans reflect a
snapshot of a dynamic, evolving process, these documents reflect our
continuing commitment to improve the Federal science and technology enterprise.
NSTC PRESIDENTIAL DECISION DIRECTIVES
The NSTC provides a mechanism within the federal government for the
development and review of major science and technology policy decisions. NSTC
Presidential Decision Directives are used to implement major policy
decisions. The NSTC review process ensures that all the agencies
affected by a decision have the opportunity to provide input and to be heard.
Two NSTC Presidential Decision Directives were announced on May 10,
1994. First, the President decided to converge the polar orbiting
environmental satellite systems of the Departments of Defense and
Commerce. Aspects of NASA's Earth Observing System are also to be
included in the single, converged, national polar-orbiting operational
environmental satellite system. A single system will reduce duplication
of efforts and satisfy the requirements of both the civil and national
security communities. Savings are expected to amount to $300 million
during fiscal years 1996 to 1999, with additional savings thereafter.
The second Presidential Decision Directive was to continue the Landsat
remote sensing satellite program and to restructure Federal agency
responsibilities for acquiring and operating the next satellite in this
series (Landsat-7). This decision insures the continuity and
availability of the Landsat remote sensing capability which is used for
civil, commercial and national security purposes.
A third Presidential Decision Directive was issued on August 4, 1994 to
establish national policy, guidelines and implementing actions for the conduct
of national space transportation programs. These programs are intended
to sustain and revitalize the space transportation capabilities which are
critical to U.S. national security, scientific, technical, commercial
and foreign policy goals.
NSTC PRESIDENTIAL REVIEW DIRECTIVES
On May 5, 1994, the President issued a Presidential Review Directive
ordering an interagency review of the Federal Government's three largest
laboratory systems - the Department of Defense, the Department of
Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The NSTC
was tasked with conducting an interagency review that would provide
guidance to, and integrate the laboratory system reviews being conducted
by the individual agencies. An interim report was issued in October
1994. A final report will be issued in April 1995.
NSTC COMMITTEE SPONSORED FORUMS
The NSTC is committed to outreach and collaboration with the private
sector and the public to ensure that Federal science and technology policies
reflect the full spectrum of the Nation's needs. A primary means of
obtaining input from outside the Federal government is through the
sponsorship of forums and workshops designed to bring together a variety
of stakeholders in a given area. Major forums and seminars held in 1994
Science in the National Interest: The Committee on Fundamental
Science, the National Academy of Sciences and other organizations co-sponsored
this forum on January 31 - February 1, 1994. Over 400 attendees
participated in a broad-based forum to consider policy objectives for
the Nation's research enterprise.
National Forum on Environment and Natural Resources R&D: The
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research co-sponsored this
forum with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of
Engineering on March 28 - 30, 1994. This was one of a series of planning
efforts designed to develop an effective, long-term strategy for this
Nation's environment and natural resources R&D programs. More than 300
participants took part in this forum.
Civilian Industrial Research: The Committee on Civilian
Industrial Technology organized a major private sector review of the
Administration's civilian industrial research programs, which was hosted
by the National Academy of Engineering and the Competitiveness Council
on July 19, 1994.
Electronics Manufacturing Initiative: As part of the NSTC's
National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, over 200 representatives of the
electronics industry, government and academia met on July 25 - 26, 1994
to discuss R&D priorities for electronics manufacturing technologies.
Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles: The Vice-President
hosted a day-long seminar on July 27, 1994 with representatives of the U.S.
automobile industry, academia, and government. This event was part of
the on-going Government-industry partnership to develop technologies for a new
generation of vehicles. The Federal effort is being coordinated by the
Committee on Civilian Industrial Technology.
Meeting the Challenge: Health, Safety and Food for America: The
Committee on Health, Safety and Food R&D co-sponsored a health, safety and
food R&D forum on November 21 - 22, 1994 with the Institute of Medicine,
the National Academy of Sciences and others. The purpose of the forum
was to obtain input on the appropriate future agenda for federally
supported R&D in the area of health, safety and food.
A White House Conference on Environmental Technologies was held in
December 1994 to build upon the "Technology for a Sustainable Future" dialogue
which took place at regional workshops throughout the country. The
culmination of these sessions will be the development and release of a
national environmental technologies strategy in April 1995.
In 1995 and beyond, the NSTC will continue to sponsor and co-sponsor a
variety of events to ensure that the goals and priorities of the
Administration reflect the needs of the public. It is essential that
resources be directed to those areas of highest priority, and it is only
through continued communication with stakeholders that we can ensure
that those needs are identified.
The federal S&T community must be visible and open to review by the
American public. Its goals and accomplishments belong to the public and need
to be communicated effectively. A primary method of doing this is
through the issuance of NSTC sponsored publications. A major
accomplishment of the past year has been the increased electronic access
to these documents made possible through use of the Internet. Many
federal publications are now available to the general public both
electronically and in print.
Some of the publications issued under the auspices of the NSTC in its
first year include:
Science in the National Interest: This Administration statement
on science policy was released by the Vice-President on August 3, 1994. The
first such statement in 15 years, this document presents policy
objectives for the Nation's research enterprise. It is the product of
an extensive NSTC consultation, combined with the input received at the
forum held on January 31 - February 1, 1994.
Technology for a Sustainable Future: A Framework for Action:
This document was issued to catalyze a national dialogue on the Federal
Government's role in facilitating innovation and stimulating a shift
from incrementalism to technological transformation, from managing waste to
sustaining and restoring ecosystems, from reacting to environmental and
public health threats to anticipating and preventing them. This paper
is the product of multi-agency analysis and input from the Environment
and Natural Resources R&D forum held in March 1994.
Our Changing Planet: The FY 1995 U.S. Global Change Research
Program: This report was issued by the Committee on Environment and
Natural Resources Research as a supplement to the President's Fiscal
Year 1995 budget. The U.S. Global Change Research Program supports
research related to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
desertification and forestry issues, and other global environmental
issues. This research significantly
contributes to the larger worldwide effort to study natural and
human-induced changes in the Earth system.
High Performance Computing and Communications: Technology for the
National Information Infrastructure; and HPCC FY 1995 Implementation
Plan: These documents were issued in April 1994 by the National
Coordination Office for High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC).
The HPCC program is a multi-billion dollar effort which operates under
the oversight of the Committee on Information and Communications.
Over the next year, the NSTC will continue the activities begun over the
past year and initiate new efforts to build upon the inter-agency foundation
now in place.
Some of the planned and continuing activities include: distribution of
the Committees' first strategic planning documents; completion of the
Interagency Federal Laboratory Review; review and submission of the
Biennial National Critical Technologies Report; development of an
interagency strategic plan for refurbishing the nation's academic
research infrastructure; continued implementation of "Science in the
National Interest" goals; and continuation of the Metrics in Fundamental
The NSTC committees will continue to bring together a variety of
disciplines and stakeholders to address specific policy issues. Input from
industry, academia, state and local governments, and the general public
will be obtained as well as that of a variety of professionals in the
social and natural sciences, engineering and economics. As one means of
obtaining that input, forums are planned in the areas of transportation
R&D; the role of science and technology in national security and global
stability; and public understanding of science. Also, NSTC committees
will participate in a series of regional meetings involving university
and industry personnel in examining the challenges and objectives set
out in "Science in the National Interest".
The establishment of the NSTC has been a major step in the
Administration's effort to re-invent the federal S&T policy process. The
successes of its first year indicate that this new organization can
indeed achieve the ambitious goals laid out for it by the President and
make a major contribution to improving the efficiency, effectiveness,
and relevance of federal science and technology efforts.
The challenges this nation currently faces require an effective,
coordinated, multi-agency, interdisciplinary approach. The NSTC draws upon the
diverse strengths of the federal science and technology enterprise and
cuts through needless bureaucracy to provide leadership in meeting these
The NSTC has been enthusiastically embraced and is now an integral part
of the federal S&T process. The Administration will move forward in 1995 to
build upon the foundation laid in the past year and to continue to
aggressively advance the interests of the American people through an improved
science and technology enterprise.
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