for classified work and also provides a more attractive career opportunity for scientists who are interested in the problems and programs of the classified world.1

David Mao from the Carnegie Institute of Washington described a specific set of projects in high-pressure physics and chemistry that demonstrated the power of this leverage between the classified and unclassified areas in basic sciences. His experience here has been that although universities do not participate directly in classified work, their understanding and knowledge, particularly in the theoretical area, have been of great value to the broader direction of defense programs.

Miriam John from Sandia National Laboratories pointed out that despite these ongoing relationships, there is a strong perception that “scientific collaborations between the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) labs and industry, universities and foreign scientists have dramatically declined.” The reality is that although the barriers to those collaborations are greater than they have ever been in the past (including new requirements governing visits by foreign nationals, conference attendance, and use of LDRD funds), labs such as Sandia have worked hard to maintain healthy foreign national postdoctoral and visitor programs. Even in the weapons program (e.g., the ASCI), the role of academic collaborative research remains strong. This interaction is critical to keeping the research quality and standards high in the classified arena and maintaining connection for researchers in the classified world with the broader scientific community.

While there are synergies that can be attained through appropriate interactions among researchers in the classified and unclassified arenas, according to Trewhella, capitalizing on these benefits requires the following systems to be put in place:

  • Effective processes for compartmentalizing the research and creating and maintaining barriers between what is open and what must be kept secret

  • Effective review mechanisms in all partitions

  • Strong partnerships with the best universities—focus on key skills

  • Strategic targeting of collaborations in open research areas that support national security S&T needs

Access issues were also raised as an important element in allowing workers to gather, share insights, and review research. Most of the labs are employing a “graded approach for site access” with specific visitor policies that allow open access to at least a small portion of the laboratory.


This section draws heavily on remarks made by Jill Trewhella on “Conducting the Best Research in a Classified Environment” at the workshop.

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