4
Directions for the Future: What Directions Are in the U.S. Interest?

Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones opened the afternoon discussion by reiterating the purpose of the workshop, namely, OSTP's need for input as it considers U.S. strategic choices for a policy that ties into security and foreign policy goals. The morning's presentations provided the political and program background for a discussion of future directions for S&T cooperation. The afternoon session examined policy and program trends within Russia and raised a number of issues that are relevant to the future character of many bilateral programs. Dr. Jones reminded the participants of certain parameters that must be considered and certain themes that had come out of the morning's presentations and discussion:

  • S&T programs and an S&T policy toward Russia must promote U.S. mission agency goals, but they also should strive to balance specific objectives with the broader goals of foreign assistance and overall security.
  • By definition, cooperative S&T programs cross different cultures and different sectors; they also involve public and private institutions and basic and applied research.
  • The United States is shifting resources to different kinds of programs and revising programs, but the bottom line is still a situation of inadequate resources.

Reflecting comments from the earlier sessions and anticipating the discussion to follow, Dr. Jones also raised the issue of the desirable balance between support for commercialization and applied technology compared with basic science and education.

There were some general beliefs voiced throughout the day's discussion that cut across programs and activities but would not generally be considered a formal



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--> 4 Directions for the Future: What Directions Are in the U.S. Interest? Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones opened the afternoon discussion by reiterating the purpose of the workshop, namely, OSTP's need for input as it considers U.S. strategic choices for a policy that ties into security and foreign policy goals. The morning's presentations provided the political and program background for a discussion of future directions for S&T cooperation. The afternoon session examined policy and program trends within Russia and raised a number of issues that are relevant to the future character of many bilateral programs. Dr. Jones reminded the participants of certain parameters that must be considered and certain themes that had come out of the morning's presentations and discussion: S&T programs and an S&T policy toward Russia must promote U.S. mission agency goals, but they also should strive to balance specific objectives with the broader goals of foreign assistance and overall security. By definition, cooperative S&T programs cross different cultures and different sectors; they also involve public and private institutions and basic and applied research. The United States is shifting resources to different kinds of programs and revising programs, but the bottom line is still a situation of inadequate resources. Reflecting comments from the earlier sessions and anticipating the discussion to follow, Dr. Jones also raised the issue of the desirable balance between support for commercialization and applied technology compared with basic science and education. There were some general beliefs voiced throughout the day's discussion that cut across programs and activities but would not generally be considered a formal

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--> element of any program. For example, the importance of personal relationships with Russian colleagues was emphasized by government as well as industry specialists. The industrialists commented that personal relationships in some cases could make up for the lack of adequate legal infrastructure. Representatives from agencies noted that most productive and positive experiences come from projects that involve individuals who have known each other for some time. Similarly, participants were sensitive to the desirability, in most cases, of defining programs carried out with Russia as ''cooperative" rather than "assistance" activities. Such principles will not be further elaborated below but should nonetheless be recognized as a component of U.S.–Russian activities. Individual Versus Institutional Support Participants were interested in whether U.S. programs that provide peer-reviewed grants should support institutions as well as individual scientists so that the individuals will have a workplace. One view expressed was that the United States does not help Russia by encouraging the retention of institutional structures that cannot possibly be viable in a market economy. In fact, many support programs, and in particular those initiated several years ago, have been aimed at the best scientists without assessing the viability of their institutions. On the other hand, most projects and activities involve a mix of support to individuals and to institutions. A representative from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for example, explained that paying for work only when it is acceptable and when the allocation of funds is clear will lead to a "normal" channeling of money to individuals and the infrastructure to support those individuals. The former International Science Foundation's long-term grant program provided a small percentage of funding for infrastructural support in recognition of the fact that working scientists need light, heat, and other supporting services. With programs under the applied S&T commercialization category, the different models are evident: One U.S. company is working together with a start-up company in Russia that emerged from a larger institute; another U.S. company is working only with established institutions; and a third U.S. company is hiring individuals. Each of these approaches has its advantages and disadvantages, with varying amounts of monetary support going to the Russian infrastructure and to individuals. Many participants agreed that the question of individuals versus institutions is a false dichotomy. Some programs have supported individuals (e.g., the International Science Foundation's Emergency Grants Program); the opposite extreme is supporting only institutions, which was characteristic of the old Soviet system. When good science and good research are supported, however, this usually helps sustain effective institutions. This holds true in Russia as in the United States. The better institutions in Russia, in which individuals have received many grants, are surviving.

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--> Providing a private-sector perspective, one participant noted that his company had set up a Russian company precisely because they found it impossible to pay individuals without paying too much for infrastructure that supports projects of others as well (e.g., electricity). Many participants agreed that grants should include institutional support, with the qualification that the strategies might still be different for supporting individuals and institutions. Specifically, any support of institutions should have a transformative as well as a supportive function. In addition, one participant pointed out the need to know the laboratory that receives support; too often, U.S. program managers or others are not aware that a laboratory to which they intend to give a grant in fact has been gathering dust for years. An idea that was well received by participants was to consider portable grants that would permit recipients to move to different institutions and that would include a certain amount of overhead. Thus, no individual or set of individuals would be ruled out because they are at the "wrong" institute. Movement of researchers might also facilitate alliances between laboratories, and thus help to sustain the best ones. Moreover, rather than focusing on institutions versus individuals, U.S. policy does and should encourage economic restructuring that strengthens institutions by allocating resources to the best institutions. Focusing on merit-based and portable grants, which allow people to move, supports this goal. Finally, one participant noted that institutional support included support not only for organizations, but for other institutions such as for the development of markets for technology and technology-intensive products. Brain Drain As had been pointed out earlier, the science and technology sector during the Soviet era was bloated beyond the economy's capacity to sustain it, making some movement of scientists into other sectors desirable. Downsizing of the sector began in the late 1980s and increased significantly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. A common estimate is that many institutes have lost 50 percent of their scientific personnel over the past 10 years. However, the large outflow of scientists and engineers of a few years ago is largely over. Brain drain within and from Russia is now close to being a normal phenomenon, with people choosing their places of work and life. A normal society permits and even encourages mobility. It is also important to differentiate between scientific mobility and emigration contributing to brain drain. In some fields, for example, high-energy physics and other experimental areas, scientists travel for extended periods to participate in international research activities. Thus, many Russian scientists might spend extended periods abroad, but then return to their home institutes after the completion of a project or as required by institutional duties. This mobility could be mistaken as a part of the brain-drain problem.

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--> The concern continues to exist nonetheless about brain drain, and in particular about the quality and age of those remaining in Russian science. The viability of most institutions is threatened as a result of the outflow of many of the best and youngest scientists. Moreover, internal brain drain might be flight to industry, but not always to production activities. In fact, there is some evidence that industry has not benefited from the migration of scientists. U.S. Government Role in Institutional Reform When considering the broad objectives of U.S. activities with Russia, the importance of supporting institutional reform was stressed to accelerate the pace of economic development and enhance Russia's capacity to innovate successfully on its own. Of course, Russia itself must implement such reforms, a task that it has failed to do adequately thus far. For example, one participant noted that the government continues to over-invest in the Academy's Institute of Space Research and under-invest in new competitive programs such as the Russian Foundation for Basic Research. However, the question from the U.S. perspective is whether institutional reform should be considered more broadly than just facilitating and supporting joint activities. Pointing out the risk of too large a U.S. role, some participants reminded the group that the U.S. government cannot accomplish institutional reform in Russia, nor can the United States save or not save an institution. That is the role of the Russian government. The U.S. government can encourage each cooperative program to be structured in such a way that it encourages openness, individual choice, portability, and institutional change. Balancing Basic Science and Education with Applied Research and Commercialization Much of the discussion centered around the increasingly important role for Russia of commercialization of applied sciences and technology, and the critical need for the United States to define a role for itself that takes into account available resources and focuses on cultivating partnerships with the U.S. private sector. Although technology commercialization will not solve all of Russia's problems, participants in general agreed on the importance of programs and activities that help develop the Russian private sector and drive the economy. That is, technology commercialization is considered by many as one way to transform S&T projects into sustainable economic activity. The U.S. government's role is to encourage and help create an environment in which business can operate. It is ironic that during Soviet times, U.S. cooperative programs were confined to basic research and any applied research was out of bounds, whereas today, basic research in Russia is largely ignored by U.S. programs. This emphasis illustrates the changing U.S. national interests, and the importance of Russian

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--> economic success. Surveys indicate that many Americans consider Russian technologies to be of very high quality; a problem is how to work with the Russians to commercialize them. Support of applied research should not eclipse the need to support basic research, as any technology requires a firm basis in science. Companies benefit from a supportive educational system and supportive government policies. Similarly, the lines of causation are not always as clear-cut as one might desire. That is, some would argue that technology does not lead to a strong economy, rather a strong economy leads to the ability to support creation and commercialization of technology. The United States should not rely on S&T as an economic driver. One participant noted that there are clear cases of U.S. programs beneficially supporting technology through a market pull; but there are many Russian institutes with technologies for which there is little market interest. What is the U.S. role in such cases? With the above cautions in mind, participants stressed the importance of the roles of the U.S. and Russian governments in promoting an atmosphere in which scientists can cooperate and businesses can operate. This includes encouraging policy reforms that support entrepreneurship, private investment, and business development. There is also a need to support management training in Russia. The discussion of technology commercialization led to the issue of risk—that is, how much risk the U.S. government and U.S. industry should be willing to take in supporting joint ventures and other commercial activities in Russia. The often-criticized practice of resource-extraction programs of U.S. (and other Western) companies in Russia is popular largely because it involves lower risk than other types of partnerships. The discussion of technology commercialization also provoked comments on the need for the U.S. government to encourage specific types of policy and legal reforms in Russia. Unlike basic research in which the issue is building institutions, the issue in commercialization is better laws and policy reforms. The status of the courts and the legal system, in general, is unclear, thus providing no protection for intellectual property. This impedes both domestic innovation and foreign investment. It was suggested that the need for a reliable banking system and financial infrastructure will force the needed reforms in Russia. At the same time, Russian professional societies and other scientific organizations can address some issues more effectively than the government can. Need for Linkages and Attention to the University System There had been little effort by U.S. government agencies or individual projects to influence S&T reforms in Russia, according to several participants. One area in which the U.S. government should consider placing greater effort is

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--> in encouraging linkages between research and industry and research and the university structure. The traditional link between the large universities, such as Moscow State University and St. Petersburg University, and the academy institutes was that of developer of scientific talent for recruitment by the institutes. Scientists did not have a role in the universities, nor did the universities benefit from the large research programs that were directed primarily to other organizations. Today, universities in Russia on the average are in a better situation financially than research institutes. One challenge, then, is how to transfer research from the research institutes to the universities and how to strengthen the linkages between the universities and research institutes. For example, NASA has a sizable program with Russia and should have an interest in the educational infrastructure of that country. The link between research and industry also deserves attention. The Department of Defense's Cooperative Threat Reduction program, although working with scientists in the military sector, is encouraging Russian industry to take advantage of technologies for cooperative programs. U.S. policy should encourage agencies to think more systematically about such linkages in their programs and activities. In addition to paying more attention to linking research with industry and the educational sector, participants believed that universities themselves deserve more attention, that is, strengthening the university structure. There was a striking lack of evidence of U.S. interactions with the university structure, although the U.S. Information Agency, which is charged with promoting exchanges, especially educational exchanges, was not represented at the meeting. Also, some nongovernmental organizations indicated an intention to give more emphasis to university science in an effort to strengthen university-based research and to encourage university-academy cooperation. Multiplier Effect of S&T The question was raised of how S&T programs can be designed and implemented to encourage multiplier effects. One participant suggested that a multiplier effect is obtained by having the Russian collaborators build a business proprietorship rather than by just providing a service. Another participant noted that the multiplier effect is in education. In the latter case, the strongest justification for supporting basic science is that it provides a training ground for young scientists. A third view was offered that no matter what the product, the multiplier effect depends on the investment. The real issue, then, is investment, which is lacking in Russia. Multilateral Projects The issue of reinvigorating multilateral projects and multilateral channels of

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--> cooperation with Russia, both to decrease the financial burden on U.S. agencies and organizations and to build on other activities in Russia, was considered. Cautionary remarks underscored that some multilateral organizations operate under inappropriate parameters. For example, the World Bank requires a 3- to 5-year payback on loans, which might not be feasible for sustained technological development. Also, the future of the large multilateral programs is uncertain; for example, multilateral funding has decreased as a percentage of total global official development assistance in the last decade. It was pointed out that the problem in Russia is not the lack of capital, which some believe Russia has, but rather the influence that any foreign government can realistically have. This comment brought the participants back to points raised previously, namely, that the U.S. government cannot provide large investment funds, but can facilitate partnerships, build infrastructure, and reduce risks to facilitate business. Given that, to the extent that multilateral channels are an option, the challenge is not so much to reinvigorate the multilateral agencies themselves but to reinvigorate S&T so it finds a place in their agendas. Sustainability and Impacts A theme central to the day's discussion was that the nature of U.S. science and technology relations with Russia is, and must continue, changing from short-term assistance activities to long-term sustainable joint activities. As one example, citing his experience with the physics community, one participant stated that support among U.S. scientists for remedial emergency grants to Russia is waning. Many physicists no longer support an intensive program of aid to Russians that might not meet international standards; rather, they prefer to normalize Russian science through a sustainable program of competitive peer review. Of course this takes time. Another question addressed by the workshop participants was how to sustain over the longer term activities stimulated by U.S. cooperative programs. Participant views differed, with some recommending that sustainability of a project after U.S. funding runs out should be a criterion for funding the project in the first place. In some applied projects, sustainability in the form of industrial interest or market interest should be built into the project from the start. Others pointed out that in basic research, commercial firms might not be willing to pay for the results. In addition to commercial interests, the United States is interested in working together with Russia to explore the frontiers of science, that is, in good basic science for science's sake. Having sustainability as a criterion might reduce the willingness of individuals and institutions to participate. A suggested solution was to define sustainability to mean that a program will meet its technical objectives, or to define it as requiring a potential alternative source of funding to support further research once U.S. funding runs out. Here again, participants did not fully agree. A National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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--> representative pointed out that NIH gives grants to Russian scientists specifically because they would not fare well in international competitions. At the same time, NIH does expect the Russian scientists to meet their stated objectives. A National Science Foundation (NSF) representative noted that proposals to NSF, which must be submitted by American scientists but may include Russians on their team, are reviewed on their scientific merits without sustainability as such being a criterion. The most the agency can ask from the investigators is their best effort. Yet a different view was offered that, in basic research, sustainability is less of an issue because agencies such as NIH and NSF fund projects with U.S. partners whose projects fall within the interests of the agencies. However, sustainability clearly becomes an issue in areas linked to national policies that might transcend the interests of individual agencies, such as nonproliferation. One leading obstacle to sustainability is the fragmentation of the research effort in Russia, particularly in medicine and biology. In this regard, efforts should help Russia consolidate research at the universities. In the end, the participants came back to a well-known theme: to ensure sustainability in a general sense, there is need for a good viable environment and a good educational system that will support research and technology-based business. Moreover, sustainability will depend on the Russian commitment to build on bilateral and multilateral programs by committing their own resources to the S&T enterprise. Ultimately, the recovery of the Russian S&T sector will depend on Russian resolve. In addition to looking at sustainability, participants agreed that programs must consider the question of impacts. In some cases, the objective is sustainable impacts, for example, nonproliferation and commercialization. But with other programs, such as NSF and NIH grants, the goal is producing excellent science. How can achievement of that goal be measured? Measuring impacts and achievements of programs requires a distinct effort, and mission agencies are generally not provided with resources to monitor the efficacy of their programs. This is an endemic problem with almost all governmental programs and programs supported by nongovernmental organizations. Nonetheless, it was recommended that every program should have built into its design the anticipated impact and how it is to be measured. One participant noted that evaluation and impact assessments would differ for each agency and each program, and a better way of measuring success and impacts would be by having an outside group or academic organization conduct a qualitative review. Such a group from outside the government might be useful in identifying areas in which more effort is warranted. The issue of geographical spread in Russia of U.S. activities was touched upon briefly, with participants raising the question of whether clustering activities in a few cities, and thus making "big footprints" in a few places, is advantageous. Of course, consciously clustering or spreading out activities requires agency time in coordination and organization.

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--> Role of Information Technologies Participants in general agreed that access to telecommunications and information technologies is crucial for the future viability of Russian S&T institutions. With U.S. government funding for international activities declining in many areas, new modes of scientific collaboration are being developed. The Internet and other information technologies can help Russia develop its S&T sector and facilitate and improve S&T collaboration between the United States and Russia. Access to the Internet also will bolster private-sector development within Russia and encourage foreign direct investment into the Russian private sector. The Internet is being installed in Russia, but at a rate slower than in the United States, due partly to funding constraints and inadequate infrastructure. Some U.S. cooperative programs have been directed to assist Russian universities and research institutes obtain access to Internet and other information technologies, and some cooperative activities with other goals have included installation of equipment in Russian institutions. Additional Concerns and Suggestions Throughout the day, workshop participants discussed specific problems and future directions about S&T policy and program activities with Russia. During the final session of the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to clarify points they had made or add new suggestions that they felt might not have received adequate attention. Individuals made the following points, but there was no attempt to gain a consensus on any item. One participant pointed to the problem of the lack of appropriate S&T expertise in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. This view was challenged by others. Moreover, it was pointed out that it is not necessary to work through the embassy and other government channels. The private sector and nongovernmental organizations can sometimes provide information and facilitation. Although many U.S. programs receive Russian researchers at American laboratories, it is sometimes difficult for young U.S. researchers to visit Russia due to logistics and other difficulties. Particularly in the geosciences, there is some research that can be done only in Russia, and the U.S. government should ensure that programs encourage a true exchange with visits in both directions. Concerning commercialization, there is need for a "development corporation" that would bring immature projects and proposals to the point that they can be funded, given the considerable financing that is available for bankable projects in Russia. When discussing sustainability, current U.S. efforts must be considered. For example, the Civilian Research and Development Foundation is a new,

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--> but struggling, institution. The U.S. government, having gone to great lengths to create it, should now provide the necessary core support to ensure that it survives. More of an effort should be made to provide public reports on the positive aspects of S&T development in Russia. Many U.S. nongovernmental organizations have successfully mediated with the Russian government exemptions to burdensome taxes on the transfer of funds and equipment under collaborative projects. To further facilitate joint research, U.S. government programs should encourage Russian reforms in such areas as S&T tax law and customs. There is a need for S&T management training in Russia. Russia needs to build up a viable business and investment environment and educational system to sustain joint ventures and other activities. To make sure such infrastructure issues are addressed, instruments such as industrial educational fellowships should be considered. In the area of technology commercialization, a U.S. leadership forum composed of private-sector representatives had previously made recommendations on steps the government could take. Those proposals should be made available and, if appropriate, incorporated into current activities. In a recent evaluation of the Department of Energy's fissile material protection, control, and accountability (MPC&A) and export control programs, the National Research Council recommended that institutes doing well in MPC&A and export control be given preference in other U.S. government programs such as the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention. This recommendation could be expanded to other government activities and programs. A State Department representative, however, suggested that this might dilute the objectives of the other programs. U.S. visa policy should be reviewed to determine if it has unintentionally contributed to a Russian brain drain or, alternatively, has made it difficult for some Russian scientists and students to visit the United States. Research grants to Russian universities and institutions should have provisions for supporting students and young researchers. U.S. programs should put more emphasis on, and a larger investment in, telecommunications technologies. They have helped enable collaboration between Russian and U.S. scientists, and offer the potential for still more benefits. For example, limited support to local networking and increased bandwidth would greatly help integrate Russian scientists into the world scientific community. The United States should not let the fear of dual-use technologies block commercialization and establishment of new businesses in Russia. The U.S. private sector can find scientists, find technologies, and build laboratories. What the private sector cannot do is remove government

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--> impediments, such as Russian tax laws, Russian customs barriers, and U.S. encryption laws if they develop. The U.S. government should continue to put emphasis on nonproliferation. Another issue is military reform, including reform of research and development. The U.S. government should consider how our S&T policy can make a difference in furthering military reform.

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