role. American scientists and engineers who have benefited from opportunities to work abroad testify to the value of their lifelong connections. Lasting relationships also deliver benefits at the national level, allowing the United States to share the costs of science, particularly for large, expensive facilities where the cost of going it alone would be prohibitive. One such example is ITER (the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor).
Finally, Mr. Gumbiner pointed out that science and technology cooperation is a powerful tool for promoting democratic values. Scientific discovery is based on open and fluid discussion, and conclusions are based on fact, not on issues of national origin, age, ethnicity, gender, or political views. These values and the approach to international relations are close to the core of what the United States seeks to do internationally.
The U.S. Department of State promotes science in several ways, serving to coordinate and support over 20 technical agencies that actually implement collaborative programs. The State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) plays a key institutional role, including the negotiation and management of bilateral science and technology agreements, of which there are currently 47. These agreements create a framework for bilateral cooperation by facilitating the exchange of scientific results; increasing access to data, ideas, and facilities for researchers; addressing taxation issues; and responding to the complex set of issues associated with economic development, security, and stability. Intellectual property is often a key element of these agreements. For the most part, bilateral S&T agreements are funded through the annual budgets of research agencies.
The Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State is a position created about a decade ago in response to a National Academies report (NRC, 1999). Key tasks for the S&T Adviser are to build partnerships with international scientific communities; provide accurate advice; enhance science and technology literacy and capacity within the Department of State; and shape a global perspective on scientific and technological developments. The Department of State and individual bureaus also make use of less formal mechanisms for incorporating science into policymaking, such as fellows programs.
According to Mr. Gumbiner, another important policy area related to international cooperation is visa processing for foreign researchers. The Department of State has made significant progress in easing the difficulties some foreign researchers have experienced due to post 9/11 visa processing changes.