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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities V. Research Priorities The unknowable nature of when, where, and what the next threat will be requires that the United States continues to rely on a broad-based talent pool as well as fundamental, longer-term research programs. The important advances from longer-term research are critical to meeting the challenge of future technological threats and human health concerns. Yet, at each of its regional meetings, the committee heard concerns about declining overall investment in research (while other countries are increasing their support).94 According to an analysis conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the U.S. federal R&D portfolio totaled $134.8 billion in 2006, a $2.2 billion, or 1.7 percent, increase over the previous year. 95 However, 97 percent of the increase is focused in two areas: defense weapons development and human space exploration technologies. Funding for all other federal R&D programs collectively fell nearly 2 percent after adjusting for inflation, and within R&D there has been a significant shift away from long-term research to short-term development. Overall: Federal research investments are shrinking as a share of the U.S. economy, just as other nations are increasing their investments…the federal R&D investment has plateaued at about 1.1 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years, buoyed by big increases in weapons development, but is projected to decline sharply in 2006. But the federal research/GDP ratio is already falling and falls further in 2006 down to the historical average of 0.4 percent after briefly increasing during the NIH doubling campaign. Despite an increasingly technology-based economy and a growing recognition among policymakers that federal research investments are the seed corn for future technology-based innovations, the U.S. government research investment has failed to match the new realities 94 R. Cook-Deegan. 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Southeast Regional Meeting at the Georgia Institute of Technology. June 6. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/Partnership-6-6-06.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007. 95 Koizumi, K. 2006. AAAS. Congressional Action on Research and Development in the FY 2006 Budget. Available at www.aaas.org/spp/rd/ca06main.htm.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities and has also failed to match the competition. While the European Union goal of boosting its government research investments by 2010 may not be met, Asian nations are dramatically increasing their government research investments: both China and South Korea, for example, are boosting government research by 10 percent or more annually.96 Other participants in the regional meetings expressed concern about the shifting balance between fundamental and applied or strategic research, with a growing focus on the latter. In addition, several commentators called for an increased emphasis on the role of social science to inform assessments of the precise nature of “threats” and how to address them. Fundamental (Long-Term) Versus Applied (Short-Term) Research In recent years several agencies, including DOD and DHS, NASA and NIH have focused resources on short-term, applied research to address immediate needs or current perceived threats. According to AAAS, the federal investment in basic research fell 0.5 percent to $26.7 billion in 2006. Many flagship federal science agencies have had disappointing budgets in 2006: the NIH budget fell for the first time in 36 years; NSF won a small increase, but has less in real terms for its research portfolio than in any of the last three years; the DOE Office of Science budget declined, and despite big increases in development funding, DOD’s basic research funding declined. At the September 2006 regional meeting, Stanford President John L. Hennessy noted that “After the events of September 11, 2001, the federal government did increase its [research] support by 31 percent in 2004 but I worry that much of those research dollars are focused on short-term research not likely to ensure our continued leadership.”97 He went on to express his concern about the expectation that short-term research goals can be deployed to academic researchers: 96 Ibid. 97 John L. Hennessy. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Western Regional Meeting at Stanford University. September 27. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/202006.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007; see also written submission to the committee.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities We [universities] are not good at finding short-term solutions to either commercial or military problems. If you think about how long it takes us to start up a new research effort you realize we should never focus on problems that need a solution in less than about a decade because by the time we can mobilize a research group, bring it up to speed, develop in-depth knowledge about a particular field and then make progress that just takes a while for us. So, we are better off with that long-term focus on research even in the more strategic work we do. If the country sees a need for institutions that will do that work then I think the national labs or other groups that can more quickly mobilize to respond to things and …also deal with issues of classification and security are a more appropriate venue for doing that.98 Gregory J. Pottie, UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science, commented at the September 2006 regional meeting that he has already witnessed examples of research domains where short-term thinking on security has “directly damaged long-term research of direct benefit to our national security.”99 In particular, he cited cybersecurity: As computer systems have grown increasingly intertwined and ever more essential to the commerce and security of the nation, these vulnerabilities are no longer matters of mere inconvenience. Yet DARPA has vastly cut funding for academic research in computer science and other information technology areas, including both internet-related research and topics related to information-centric warfare….electronic security threats by their nature constantly evolve, requiring a long-term commitment of resources. Several university officials expressed concern about the direction research funding in the life sciences has taken. Over the last five years, there has been a remarkable increase of funding for bioterrorism-related research, while long-standing research budgets in the life sciences have been cut or have 98 Ibid. 99 Gregory J. Pottie. 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Western Regional Meeting at Stanford University. September 27. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/202006.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007; see also written submission to the committee.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities remained stagnant.100 For example, NIH has increasingly devoted a great deal of funding to translational research, away from more basic long-term research. In addition, Elisa Harris noted the huge expansion in dollars for bioterrorism and biodefense-related research funded by NIH—from $53 million in fiscal year 2001 to more than $1.9 billion requested for fiscal year 2007. Although the actual dollar amount and percent increase of bioterror-related funding is a subject of debate,101 the amount of research funds and resources specifically for select agents and dual-use research has increased substantially. In fact, one-third of the extramural budget of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is targeted for biodefense. In addition, NIH is funding more laboratories that can handle the most dangerous pathogens and eight new regional centers of excellence for biodefense and emerging infectious disease research. As noted during the Georgia Tech regional meeting, some 16,000 researchers have now been approved to work with select agents.102 Together these factors have, arguably, placed less emphasis on basic biological research and a greater emphasis on applied biological research that can have more near-term, tangible benefits.103 While the committee appreciates the need to address some targeted areas, it fundamentally believes, as stated in the 2006 National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism that “A balanced research portfolio in all fields of science and engineering is critical to U.S. prosperity.”104 Social Science and Security Concerns Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for the future will be understanding the threat and redefining and understanding the meaning of 100 AAAS R&D Funding Update on R&D in NIH FY 2007 House Appropriations. 101 A S. Fauci and E. Zerhouni. 2005. NIH response to open letter. Science. 308(5718):49. 102 Elisa D. Harris. 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Southeast Regional Meeting at the Georgia Institute of Technology. June 5. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/Partnership-6-6-06.pdf. Accessed February 15, 2007. 103 N. Stafford. 2006. EU stem cell funding in jeopardy? The Scientist. March 28. Available at www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23252/. Accessed February 14, 2007. 104 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2007. Rising Above the Gathering Storm. Implementation Action B-1.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities security. As Michelle Van Cleave indicated at the inaugural meeting of the committee, “There are 135 nations in the world that collect intelligence against the United States. …Why? Because we are the premier nation in the world. Most of the cutting-edge research in so many things is done here….Everybody is interested in us and some of their interests are fine but many of their interests are going to be inimical to ours and we together as a country, government, industry, academia, we all are part of this.”105 Figuring out which interests are harmful and what security really means is paramount. Current discussions tend to migrate from one definition to another, for example, protecting information from dissemination to unauthorized users, or protecting biological, chemical, and nuclear research facilities from infiltration by foreign agents. Security in the first case can be enhanced through visa policies, international collaboration, conference exchanges, and policies for publication. Security in the second case concerns the more classic issue of the security and integrity of physical facilities and hazardous materials. The social sciences have a major role to play in understanding threats, risks, and potential organizational response strategies. Several commentators at the committee’s regional meetings highlighted the need for increased focus on the social sciences: There is a glaring gap between the importance of U.S. intelligence agencies in the public policy world and the attention that they are receiving by social scientists here in the Academy and the consequence of this gap is that we have an underdeveloped understanding of the political, sociological and organizational factors that critically influence what our agencies do and how effectively they do it. If you fund it, they will come. …one way to do that is to increase NSF funding … which shouldn't be too difficult given that since 9/11 not a single NSF grant for political science went to focusing on U.S. intelligence issues, 141 grants, $29 million, not one devoted to the study of U.S. intelligence agencies. Risk-benefit analysis is really what we are talking about in terms of communication flow in science, something that hasn't always been 105 M. Van Cleave. 2006. National Counterintelligence Executive, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Remarks made at the January 12, 2005 meeting of the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security, National Academy of Sciences.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities first and foremost in the minds of the scientists in the community or the individual investigator….106 As the 2002 National Academies report, Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences, emphasized that “systematic theoretical and empirical research—some ongoing, some new—can create, confirm, refine, and reject understandings about terrorism as a social and political phenomenon, thereby improving the knowledge base for efforts to contend with it.”107 Furthermore, the social sciences can enhance our understanding of the conduct of science, the culture of laboratories, the technology transfer process, international collaborations in science, and the culture of openness and trust in science. With regard to security concerns, the social sciences could focus on the precise nature of current “threats” to national and global security, including investigations of the culture of terrorist groups and the structure of terrorist networks. In addition, the social sciences could inform us about the difference between Cold War approaches and strategies for coping with biological threats, terrorist attacks, and stateless violence. Human intelligence will continue to play an increasingly important role in our ability to understand our enemies and identify the next threat. As MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest noted, “The lack of perspective and strategic analysis from the social sciences and so forth were absolutely at the core of some of our worst intelligence failures, especially that in Iraq.”108 Methods and strategies for determining security risks and the relative benefits of preventive actions and for establishing appropriate risk/benefit calculations need to be further developed. In addition, mechanisms for accurately and appropriately communicating risks and threats to the scientific community and general public must be improved. This calls for sufficient 106 Amy Zegart. 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Western Regional Meeting at Stanford University. September 27. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/202006.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007. 107 National Research Council. 2002. Terrorism: Perspectives from the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, p. 50. 108 Charles Vest. 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Northeast Regional Meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. May 16. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/032895.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities support for research in the fields of area studies, languages, risk assessment, and the social sciences more generally. Recommendation 10: The National Science Foundation, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the intelligence agencies should increase funding for the social sciences, particularly for area studies and languages. These subjects are critical to developing the knowledge base needed to understand the social, cultural, and political bases of terrorism and to identify and characterize potential adversaries, threats, effective organizational and interorganizational response strategies, and opportunities to reduce or eliminate those threats. If the federal government were to subsidize these areas of study, students could repay their obligation through committed time spent in the foreign service, the public health service, or the intelligence community. Recommendation 11: The National Science Foundation, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, and the intelligence agencies should work together to fund additional research in the fields of security risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses of security strategies affecting university research and the global movement of students and scholars. The current emphasis on “risk minimization” is one-sided and does not balance the costs and lost benefits against the magnitude and likelihood of the risk. Summary Congress and the Executive Branch should examine ways to further support and expand research opportunities, ensuring that long-term goals are not being compromised by short-sighted concerns. Additionally, federal research agencies should ensure that their research portfolios contain the critical aspects of the social sciences that are needed to support their research missions and national security efforts. At the first meeting of the committee, White House OSTP Director John Marburger noted that “The science community has much to offer regarding the definition and analysis [of] threats and possible responses to them. It is not clear that we have captured
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities all that social science particularly can give in informing our processes and our principles of responding.”109 109 Jack Marburger, 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Meeting, The National Academies. January 12-13.
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