. "Ocean Sciences at the National Sciences Foundation: An Administrative History." 50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950-2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
gram. In a departure from other existing academic consortia such as Associated Universities, Inc., which managed research centers as corporate entities, JOIDES did not incorporate, indicating that one of its members would serve as the operational contractor.
In 1966, Congress provided $5.4 million in "new money" to start the ocean sediment program. NSF accepted a proposal from a JOIDES member, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, to operate the program; scientific guidance would be provided by JOIDES. Two years later, with Glomar Challenger as its platform, DSDP began one of the most productive scientific ventures in NSF history (see Winterer paper in this volume).
Sea Grant: 1966-1970
In 1966, Congress passed the National Sea Grant College Program Act. Sea Grant was modeled on the Land Grant concept that had left an indelible mark on higher education a century before. NSF was assigned responsibility for the new program.
Sea Grant included components that cut across every line organization in NSF--education, basic and applied research, institutional support, and public outreach. In earlier times, NSF would have created a special management office reporting to the NSF Director. Given the nature of Sea Grant, that would probably have been a good choice in this case. However, just having undergone a series of reorganizations designed to assign such functions to line operating units, NSF decided to place Sea Grant under the Associate Director for Research.
The Office of Sea Grant invited proposals in 1967 and made its first awards, totaling $2 million, the following year. The program had its critics. Among the most vocal were other marine research institutions that felt that Sea Grant awardees were not always held to the same standards that were exacted in "standard" research support programs. Because of the administrative decision to place the program in the Research Directorate, such comparisons were probably inevitable.
By the closing years of the decade, the new Nixon Administration was weighing the report of the Stratton Commission, a group appointed by the previous Administration to examine ocean policy issues. One of its recommendations was the establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sea Grant was among the programs proposed for assignment to the new agency. In the interagency Marine Council, NSF expressed misgivings about creation of the new agency and reassignment of Sea Grant, but was overruled on both points.
THE 1970S: ANOTHER WATERSHED
It is hard to imagine a sharper contrast than between the optimism and expansiveness of the early 1960s and the pessimism, disenchantment with government programs, and social unrest of the end of the decade. The primary cause was the Vietnam War. For the nation, the science community, the Foundation, and the ocean sciences, it was a time of profound change.
As the budgetary and social pressures of the Vietnam War increased, Navy support for academic oceanography began to decline. The Mansfield Amendment, attached to a Defense Department procurement bill that took effect in 1970, made it unlawful for the Department of Defense to fund projects in basic science unless they were clearly related to a military function or operation. The chilling effect of the prohibition was felt at once throughout the research community. In the ocean sciences, in the space of a few years, ONR dropped from dominance to a minority position in the support of academic research.
Proposals for creation of NOAA, under discussion for several years, would come to fruition in 1970. It had been argued that one of the possible roles for the new agency would be directing centralized operations of regional research fleets. Although this concept was not embodied in the NOAA legislation, it was still popular in some circles, and would recur in one form or another over the next two decades. It helped to spur NSF to take seriously the recommendations for creation of a National Oceanographic Laboratory System (NOLS) to coordinate academic ship operations.
NSF's Management Style Comes Under Attack
By the end of the 1960s, NSF' s management capabilities had come into question in many quarters. Mohole was a public embarrassment, and several NSF education programs had become philosophically and politically controversial. Although they had drawn less public attention, some of NSF's ventures into construction of astronomy facilities had encountered management problems that were well known in the Administration and Congress.
The new Republican Administration was intent on curbing the growth of some of the programs established in the prior decade, and budgets were pressed by the costs of the ongoing Vietnam War. At the same time, the Administration wanted to be sure that civilian agencies picked up some of the research support being dropped by the Department of Defense, particularly research with economic and social relevance. Some Presidential advisors felt that NSF was too passive and not sufficiently concerned with managerial and budgetary realities to be trusted with new programs. A new NSF Director was appointed and given instructions to "clean house."
The Reorganization of 1969-70: Major Changes for the Ocean Sciences
The new NSF Director was given a significant administrative tool in the form of a law that provided him, for the