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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation 2 The National Context for Science and Technology Policy Advice State policy making takes place in a national context, and many state efforts build on federal activities or models. At the convocation, Richard Atkinson provided a historical overview of science and technology policy advice at the federal level, dividing his analysis into four periods: before the 1940s, the decade of the 1940s, the period from 1950 until 1975, and the period from 1975 until the present (summarized in Table 2-1). HISTORICAL OVERVIEW Before World War II, federal industrial laboratories in the United States conducted “brilliant research,” Atkinson said, but most of this research was focused on commercial applications of new knowledge. Perhaps a dozen U.S. universities and a few private nonprofit institutions, such as the Carnegie Institution of Washington, could be considered world-class research institutions, but these institutions received virtually no funding from the federal government. Instead, they relied on their endowments, private fundraising, some funding from industry, and state funds. Before 1940, said Atkinson, researchers in private industry and even in universities “depended very much on the Europeans for basic research.” As it became clear that the United States would soon become embroiled in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the National Defense Research Council (NDRC) in 1940 to organize the nation’s scientific resources for wartime. The NDRC was chaired by Vannevar Bush,
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation TABLE 2-1 Significant Dates and Events in Federal Funding of Science and Technology Pre-1940s 1940-1949 1950-1975 1976-Present Research on commercial applications of knowledge by federal industrial laboratories. 1940: National Defense Research Council established. 1950: National Science Foundation (NSF) established. 1976: NSF funds research on effects of S&T on local, state, national, and international economies. Funding from endowments, private fundraising, industry, and state funds. 1941: Federal Office of Scientific Research and Development established, which contracted for R&D. 1957-present: Launch of Sputnik catalyzes greater funding of university research. 1978: NSF begins to support state S&T councils. 1941-1945: Federal laboratories supported war effort for World War II. 1957: President’s Science Advisory Council and position of presidential advisor for science began. Both were abolished in 1973. 1979: NSF establishes Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for states with low levels of research support. 1945: Publication of Science—The Endless Frontier. 1946-1950: Many federal agencies began funding large amounts of research in universities. 1973: NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Program established. 1980: Bayh-Dole Act assigns intellectual property rights for university research to universities. 1974: Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) established in the Executive Office of the President; Director of OSTP named as president’s science advisor.
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation formerly dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at that time president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Its membership also included the presidents of MIT and Harvard and the president of Bell Laboratories, who at that time was also the president of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1941 the federal government established the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) in the Executive Office of the President. OSRD, also chaired by Bush, had much more authority than the NDRC—for example, it was able to contract for research and development for military purposes. The federal government sponsored much more research during World War II than it ever had before, and much of this research either occurred at or was managed by universities. Atomic research that led directly to the Manhattan Project was done at the University of Chicago. The Radiation Laboratory, which developed radar systems, was located on the MIT campus. Research and development at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, where the first nuclear weapons were constructed, was managed by the University of California. These wartime research efforts produced remarkable advances, including the atomic bomb, high-frequency radar, sonar cryptography, proximity fuses, and important developments in the medical sciences. Toward the end of the war, President Roosevelt asked Vannevar Bush to develop a plan, based on the federal government’s wartime experiences, to shape the nation’s postwar research system. The result was the report Science—The Endless Frontier, which was transmitted to President Harry S. Truman on July 5, 1945. In that report, Bush observed that the private sector had the principal responsibility for funding applied research and development. But the market could not guarantee that society would invest sufficiently in basic research because U.S. industry lacked the economic incentive to perform or support research that was widely disseminated in scientific publications. As a result, Bush argued, the federal government should fund basic research as a public good. Furthermore, the report implied that this research should be conducted largely in universities, with the allocation of research funds being determined largely through peer review. It was a plan “unique to the United States,” said Atkinson. Not everything Bush recommended was enacted. He promoted the idea of a national research foundation through which all federal funding for basic research would flow. But resistance from the Congress scuttled that idea, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which had a more limited mandate, was not established until 1950. In the interim, many other federal agencies, including the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, and other
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation parts of the Defense Department, began funding significant amounts of basic research in universities using the peer review process. The two and a half decades from 1950 until 1975 witnessed “the true flowering of the American research university,” said Atkinson. Federal funding of university research increased at a rapid rate, particularly with the launch of Sputnik in 1957. The challenge from the Soviet Union also led President Dwight D. Eisenhower to establish the President’s Science Advisory Council (PSAC) and to designate James Killian, president of MIT, as his science advisor. Under the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and to some extent Johnson administrations, PSAC was “central to the workings of government and [had] very high visibility,” according to Atkinson. U.S. scientists dominated the ranks of Nobel Prize winners during that period. All of the Nobel prizes in physics from 1950 to 1975 either went to Americans or were shared by Americans. Of the 26 Nobel prizes awarded during that period in chemistry, 18 went to Americans, and Americans received or shared all of the Nobel prizes in medicine or physiology. After the Nobel Prize in economics was established in 1969, six of the first eight winners were Americans. “It was a wonderful period for American science,” said Atkinson. By the end of that period, tensions began to surface. Economic competition from abroad was intensifying, raising the question of whether the university-based research programs of the United States had become too separated from the needs of industry. “There was a feeling that a link between industry and the universities, between basic research and the rest of the chain of research and development, had been broken,” said Atkinson. Also, many Americans were becoming restive about the negative influence of new technologies, as the war in Vietnam dragged on and the environmental movement began to take shape. President Lyndon B. Johnson was less happy with PSAC than his predecessors had been “because they were not giving him advice that he thought was very useful in terms of the war,” according to Atkinson. Johnson also wanted the scientists on PSAC to help him define his Great Society initiatives to attack poverty and inequality, but PSAC, which consisted largely of physical scientists and mathematicians, “really had nothing to say” about those issues. When President Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, he was particularly displeased with the scientific community. In his taped conversations, he often spoke with disdain for the research university community, said Atkinson, partly because he felt that the university community in general was opposed to his policies. Funding for research began to taper off during the Nixon years. In 1973, Nixon abolished PSAC and eliminated the position of science advisor. When he took office after Nixon’s 1974 resignation, President Gerald R. Ford, and his vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, were very commit-
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation ted to reinstituting science and technology policy advice in the White House. Working with Congress, they established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President, with the director of OSTP designated as the president’s science advisor. At the same time, various federal agencies, private foundations, and professional societies like the National Academy of Sciences began to identify and address some of the shortcomings that had led to tensions in the science and technology system. One prominent shortcoming was a perceived disconnect between basic research and the marketplace. In response, the National Science Foundation established the Industry/University Cooperative Research Program, which was a “tremendously important program,” according to Atkinson (who was NSF director when the program was instituted). Under this program, scientists and engineers in universities worked with their counterparts in industry to submit collaborative proposals to NSF. If the proposal was approved through the peer review process, NSF funded the university side of the project while industry funded work in its laboratories. Although the program initially encountered some resistance, the quality of the proposals was “overwhelming,” said Atkinson. “That led to quite a change in funding agencies’ approaches to science and technology.” Another response to the gap between universities and industry was the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. The act assigned the intellectual property rights for research done at universities to the universities themselves, which has meant that the university and individual researchers can profit from their research. In response, universities have set up technology transfer offices to identify and license technologies developed at their institutions. Although these offices are “still not doing the job that needs to be done,” said Atkinson, they have helped build connections between university and industry research that had long been neglected. At that time, NSF also began to fund a program of research into the effects of science and technology on the economy at the state, local, national, and international levels. The result was the development of a body of ideas now known as “new growth theory,” which “greatly clarified the powerful role that investments in research play in driving the economy of the country,” said Atkinson. This same period saw the initiation of several additional activities focused on the state level. One was the establishment by NSF in 1979 of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. EPSCoR was designed to ensure that some research funding would flow to states that were disadvantaged in competing with states in which research-intensive universities are located. Also during this period, NSF helped support and fund state science
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation and technology councils based in part on models at the national level. Although some of these councils have faltered, others have become important players in state policy making (as described later in this report). Other countries are working hard to emulate the success of the United States in science and technology, including China, Japan, and England. The crucial difference in these countries, according to Atkinson, is that their universities usually are part of national education systems and are overseen by a department or ministry of education. “With all the rules and regulations and constraints, these universities don’t have the entrepreneurial character that American universities have had,” Atkinson said. “And it’s the entrepreneurial character of American universities that has laid the strong foundation for the U.S. science and technology system.” THE FEDERAL LABORATORIES The laboratories supported by the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, Transportation, and Homeland Security; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and other federal agencies are another prominent part of the national science and technology system. These laboratories have many different missions, from basic research on the fundamental constituents of matter to the development of military systems. But all can influence science and technology policy advising at the state level, according to Lynn Peters, a vice president with Battelle and former director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who represented the federal and national laboratories during a panel discussion. “They thrive within their local communities and have an intimate interest [in those communities],” Peters said. Peters focused on the largest component of the federal laboratories—the national laboratories supported by the Department of Energy (see Figure 2-1).1 Regional interactions are an integral part of the missions of these laboratories, according to Peters. For example, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has worked closely with researchers at the University of Washington and Washington State University to advocate for a Life Sciences Discovery Fund in the state—indeed, one of the laboratory’s scientists was the science advisor to a former governor of Washington. “In many ways, we could speak for academia better than they could speak for themselves,” said Peters. “We were not the laboratory that was going to get a whole lot of funding out of that $350 million program. But we would be building the science base.” 1 A master list of federally funded R&D centers is maintained by the National Science Foundation and is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06316/ [accessed March 2008].
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation FIGURE 2-1 The U.S. national laboratories. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy. Similarly, Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico has participated in the development of a successful science and technology park where businesses work to convert new research into commercial products. Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee has partnered with the state to form the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, which is working to develop high-performance computing and communications. And the Department of Homeland Security has worked with the national laboratories to help fulfill its missions. For example, radiation monitors based on research carried out at the national laboratories have been deployed at the nation’s borders to detect movements of radioactive materials. A critical mission for the laboratories in the future, said Peters, will be mitigating climate change. Stabilizing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at twice the preindustrial level will require a mix of energy sources very different from those of today. Carbon from fossil fuels may be captured and sequestered. And new nuclear power plants will almost certainly need to be built, which will have tremendous implications for state and local policy makers. Yet very little discussion of nuclear power is occurring, Peters pointed out. “We have to look at [nuclear power], and we have to move [the discussion] forward.”
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES The National Academies are another important institution in the science and technology policy advising system. The National Academy of Sciences, established in 1863 at the request of President Abraham Lincoln under a congressional charter, has had two main functions. One is to honor the nation’s top scientists. “It’s truly a high honor to be elected, and there are a number of Academy members here in this room,” said Warren Muir, executive director of the Division of Earth and Life Sciences at the National Research Council of the National Academies, who summarized the history and roles of the National Academies at the convocation. The second function, as specified in the Academy’s charter, has been, “whenever called upon by any department of the Government, [to] investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.”2 In this capacity, the institution has functioned as an advisor to the federal government for many years, and its reports often have influenced other levels of government (including individual states) and private organizations. Today the National Academies consist of four entities: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. Like the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine are honorific. They were established in 1964 and 1970, respectively, to honor the nation’s top engineers, medical researchers, and physicians and also to provide policy advice to the government. The National Research Council (NRC) was established in 1916 as a way to expand the range of expertise involved in policy deliberations beyond the membership of the National Academy of Sciences. Committees of experts organized under the National Research Council release more than 250 reports each year on a wide variety of topics, from the safety and security of spent nuclear fuel, to guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, to the ecological impacts of climate change, to national standards for science education in grades K-12. Committees are carefully vetted, and committee members disclose any potential conflicts of interest with the subject being addressed. “Each person discusses their expertise and perspectives on the issues so that we make sure that we have the right expertise and the right balance of perspectives,” said Muir. In some cases, committees are adjusted as a study proceeds to add expertise or achieve a better balance of perspectives. Draft reports from committees are reviewed by experts who are not on the committee and by representatives of the NRC and are revised as needed before being 2 “Art” at the time the charter was instituted was synonymous with “technology” today.
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation made public. All of the reports are publicly available except for a small fraction on classified subjects, and for these reports a public summary of the report is available.3 The studies can be expensive, often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover staff time and to convene committees. Reports often take a year or more to complete, although some have been done in much less time when a project calls for a quick response. The National Academies have always been separate from and independent of the federal government—operating as a 501C(3) organization—and the members of committees serve without compensation. The National Academies are not an advocacy organization or a consultant for the private sector. With a few exceptions, Academies reports analyze and synthesize already existing information and evidence and are produced in response to requests from government agencies or nongovernmental organizations. “The Academy is a service entity,” said Muir. “We take on the questions that people come to us with and that are funded.” Among the National Academies’ strengths are “the organization’s unique credibility and its unparalleled ability to draw in the best experts from around the country, and indeed from around the world,” Muir said. Because the National Academies are not an advocacy or a stakeholder organization, they are highly valued for their independence. However, the National Academies also lack the capacity in general to follow up once a project is complete. When a report is issued, the authoring committee usually disbands and the institution moves on to new projects. As a result, said Muir, the institution cannot “interpret and follow through with legislators or others on most of our reports.” The organizations that make up the National Academies are national in scope, but they often examine issues that have important implications at the state and local levels. NRC committees have looked at such diverse issues as the introduction of foreign oysters into the Chesapeake Bay, the Louisiana coastal protection restoration program, and the safety of a proposed biosafety facility to be built in Boston. Committees also work with state organizations, such as universities or state academies of science. The federal government funds most studies conducted by the National Academies, but funding also comes from many other sources, including the states. In some cases, states also appeal to federal agencies or to their congressional representatives to fund a study of special relevance to that state. Sponsors cannot see the reports as they are being written and reviewed because the National Academies are exempt by an act of Congress from the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act 3 Electronic versions of all 4,000+ National Academies reports are available at <http://www.nap.edu>.
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation (FACA).4 As a result, sponsors “don’t know what they are going to get,” said Muir. “They end up receiving the report once it is final.” A CASE STUDY: MANAGING THE COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN In his talk, Gerry O’Keefe, Columbia River policy coordinator of the Washington State Department of Ecology, provided an excellent example of how the NRC works with states when he spoke about an NRC committee that focused on an issue of direct relevance for Washington State. The Columbia River carries 200 million acre-feet of water in an average year, (which, coincidentally, is about the same size as the water budget for the state of California, O’Keefe noted). It drains an area of 273,000 square miles that extends from Canada to Wyoming and Utah. It is a tightly controlled system that is managed for flood control, for agriculture, for power generation, and for protection of the salmon that live and spawn in the river. Factors affecting the river are undergoing profound changes, O’Keefe pointed out. Population growth is increasing the demands being made of the river. Climate change, particularly as it affects mountain snowpacks, could alter the amount of water that the river can supply. Salmon species in the river are in decline, even though salmon have an “iconic value” to the people of Washington State. And the river continues to offer untapped potential for economic development. According to one calculation, withdrawing 1 million acre-feet of water, which is about half of 1 percent of the annual flow of the Columbia, and applying it to the land would create 18,000 jobs and annual revenues of approximately $850 million. “This is a number that is not ever ignored by the governor’s office” or the state legislature, said O’Keefe. “It captures and crystallizes their attention like almost nothing else will.” For decades, the state has struggled to develop policies to manage the Columbia River Basin. Many groups have conflicting interests in the Columbia River, including farmers, other private interests, the federal government, the environmental community, and 13 Indian tribes that rely on the river’s water. As discussions among these groups deteriorated over the years, management decisions became increasingly difficult. “You were either on one side or you were on the other, and there was no middle ground,” said O’Keefe. When state officials or others in charge of mediating among the sides tried to arrange meetings, the sides would not even agree to talk unless they knew what the outcome of the discussion was likely to be. Different groups “have veto power,” said O’Keefe. “The 4 For more information about the Federal Advisory Committee Act, see <http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentType=GSA_BASIC&contentId=11635>.
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation federal statute is designed with overlapping authorities and jurisdictions, and unless you have something close to consensus, you’re going to find out that you’re unable to act.” Washington State had decided that it could not rely totally on local sources of advice for decisions about managing the river. Experts in the state who were qualified to offer advice had mostly worked on specific aspects of the problem previously. These individuals probably could and would have done their best work, said O’Keefe, but they were compromised by their proximity to the issue. “We needed policy innovation, we needed policy consensus,” said O’Keefe. “We needed something to cut through the gridlock.” In 2002 the state turned to the Water Science and Technology Board at the NRC for help. The first task was to define the question to be answered. “We spent a tremendous amount of time and energy thinking about what it was we were going to ask the National Academy of Sciences to resolve for us.” The actual charge covered most of two pages, but it can be boiled down to a relatively simple question, according to O’Keefe: “If 1 million acre-feet of water were to be removed from the river, what impact would that action have on endangered species, and what could be done to mitigate those impacts?” The state did not know what the response from the NRC committee would be, and the final report from the Water Science and Technology Board (National Research Council, 2004) did not deliver the answer that the state expected, according to O’Keefe. State officials expected that a relatively small withdrawal of water from the river was unlikely to have a measurable effect on the salmon. The NRC report said otherwise. It said that salmon populations were in trouble, especially during the summer when the flow of the river is lower and the water is warmer. The conclusion of the report, said O’Keefe, was that “you need to be very careful as you allocate water out of the stream. You are getting yourself into a situation where you could end up with a year or a series of years where you have lost your management flexibility and you have in fact predetermined that you will lose your species as well.” Once the report was delivered, policy makers in Washington State had to decide what to do with the NRC’s advice. This was not a foregone conclusion, said O’Keefe. State legislators “really are representative of the communities that elect them. They come from all kinds of backgrounds. … Our challenge is to try to find ways to … connect with those people who have the ability to make those decisions.” To their credit, despite the many pressures exerted on them, the state’s policy makers did not ignore the advice. “We tried, to the extent we could, to be guided by the National Academies to create a flexible and responsive policy framework on the fly that helped us break through the policy gridlock that we had experienced
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State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges - Summary of a National Convocation as a state.” The state opted to look at additional storage developments for Columbia River water and at the use of existing storage facilities. Of every three quantities of water made newly available through this process, one would be set aside for protection of the salmon. “We linked the economic interest of the state to the long-term environmental interest of the state in a way that I think is really quite creative, and it turned out to be quite compelling and powerful,” O’Keefe said. Legislation authorizing the creation of a new water program was supported with $200 million of funding to develop water supplies over time. And conversations with Canada and with surrounding states were initiated to manage the river more effectively. “The future in Washington State as a result of this conversation is really quite a lot brighter,” O’Keefe concluded.