therefore represent much of the STH capabilities supported by the U.S. Government. The committee gave particular emphasis to long-duration international commitments, programs, and projects while recognizing that often ad hoc projects of short duration can also be important both to the STH community and to the Department. Although each department and agency has its own particular set of international interests, some common threads warrant attention.
The international interests and programs of most departments and agencies are expanding. A large number of activities are mandated in legislation (International Space Station [NASA], protection of nuclear material in Russia [DOE]). Of these, many are extensions of domestic programs that are affected by international developments or can benefit from international cooperation (environmental protection of the Great Lakes [Environmental Protection Agency, EPA], oceanographic investigations in foreign waters [NOAA]). Other programs flow from the policies and priorities of intergovernmental and other international organizations (World Health Organization [WHO] programs on infectious diseases [Department of Health and Human Services, HHS]). Still others are undertaken to obtain scientific inputs from foreign researchers or to share costs with interested foreign organizations.
A few international STH activities receive continuing attention at the highest levels of the executive and legislative branches in Washington (e.g., global climate change, nuclear nonproliferation regime, U.S.-Japan cooperation and reciprocal access to Japanese technological developments). The impacts of specific incidents involving U.S. researchers on bilateral scientific relations can sometimes be profound, as reflected in recent reports concerning the mishandling of nuclear weapons data at U.S. laboratories. At the other extreme, many cooperative activities of individual researchers supported with government funds attract very little attention, including projects that may have global or regional implications (e.g., research grants for individual investigators awarded by NIH and NSF).
In short, the departments and agencies are widening their global perspectives and expanding their international activities. International organizations are finding greater political support for a variety of global programs involving STH issues that are central to the missions of the departments and agencies. American industry and American scientific organizations are increasingly looking for support from the departments and agencies as they strengthen their international activities. Thus, the responsibilities of the Department for staying abreast of and assisting with these types of activities will continue to grow. To carry out these responsibilities, the Department must have effective mechanisms for interacting with many elements of the U.S. Government.