agencies, the panel has concluded that this option deserves consideration only on a very selective basis. It should be undertaken only at agencies that have had success in selected programs aimed at promoting commercial technology development efforts in the past. This might include, for example, DARPA, the Department of Energy's support for energy research, and the National Institutes of Health.
A program such as the one outlined above is appropriate. If the federal government pursues this strategy in the absence of other initiatives, however, it will be inadequate to meet national objectives. Government programs to encourage pre-commercial R&D and technology development must be insulated from ongoing budget and political pressures. This is particularly true when considering the effect that the annual congressional budget process has on mission agency budgets. Financial support for pre-commercial R&D, channeled through mission agencies, has little chance of competing with long-standing basic research (and it should not) or with other technology objectives of mission agencies.
Moreover, even if resources were guaranteed a reasonable chance of successfully competing with existing programs in the budgeting process, it is unlikely that so decentralized an approach to support for industry in areas that require choices as to key technologies would result in identifiable, long-term benefits to U.S. industrial performance. We are even more convinced that this is the case in the absence of a stronger supervisory process than provided by present or likely White House mechanisms.
There are agency advisory groups, such as the President's Council on Science and Technology, the Federal Coordinating Council on Science and Technology administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the cabinet-level Domestic Policy Council that include technology policy in their mandates. These groups, however, lack administrative and budget authority to affect federal policy. Moreover, they are operated almost entirely by lower-level officials on a sporadic, part-time basis. The panel, therefore, has concluded that a new federal entity is needed to finance and organize substantial investments in pre-commercial R&D, including any selective expansion of mission agency programs.
Another alternative for enhanced federal support for pre-commercial R&D is the establishment of a new federal agency within the current executive branch structure. In the past several years, Congress and congressional advisory groups have advanced proposals for a civilian counterpart to DARPA. For example, the proposed 1989 Trade and Technology Promotion Act would have established an Advanced Civilian Technology Agency to pro-