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II. Strategic Plan

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Strategic Planning Document -
International Science, Engineering
and Technology



Science and technology are global enterprises. For the U.S., this presents both opportunities and challenges in developing S&T policy through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The internationalization of science offers many exciting opportunities, since some of today's most difficult scientific and technological problems cannot be solved by the United States (or any country) acting alone. The intellectual and financial resources needed to address such issues as protecting the environment, developing sustainable energy sources, or identifying the fundamental structure of the Universe, can only be mustered on the basis of international cooperation. Many parts of the U.S. scientific agenda inherently require international cooperation, for example, the study of the causes and effects of global climate change. Other parts of the agenda naturally invite collaboration because of unique foreign expertise or facilities.

American scientists and engineers are playing a vital role in addressing some of the most pressing global problems that, in the long run, can represent a threat to the United States: environmental degradation, new and re-emerging diseases, rapid population growth, and food scarcity. International engagement also allows American scientists and engineers to become familiar with foreign technology, and to help establish the basis for the export of American technology-based products and services.

Participation in international collaborative projects, particularly in technologies with defense and economic applications, requires careful analysis, planning and interagency coordination. On one hand, higher levels of international cooperation support continuing U.S. leadership in S&T. On the other hand, this cooperation must serve the national interest: the advancement of U.S. economic competitiveness, global stability, sustainable development and other elements of national security.

The Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology (CISET) addresses international scientific cooperation as it relates to foreign policy and the nation's research and development agenda. The main function of CISET is to develop, on an interagency basis, policies for furthering international S&T cooperation in the national interest. CISET activities are directed towards three broad, complementary goals:

  1. To identify and coordinate international cooperation that can strengthen the domestic S&T enterprise and promote U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

  2. To utilize American leadership in science and technology to address global issues and to support the post-Cold War tenets of U.S. foreign policy - promoting democracy, maintaining peace, and fostering economic growth and sustainable development.

  3. To coordinate the international aspects of federal R&D funding across the federal agencies.

These goals reflect CISET's commitment to the Principles and Priorities defined by the Memorandum on FY96 Research and Development Priorities, issued by John Gibbons and Leon Panetta on May 6, 1994. The Gibbons/Panetta Memorandum lists the following Principles that are particularly relevant to CISET:

  • Promote International Cooperation. Promote long-term, effective international cooperation, particularly for large-scale, complex S&T programs and global issues.

  • Invest in Anticipatory R&D. Increased emphasis should be placed on anticipatory research -- R&D programs designed to prevent problems in health, the environment, population, crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Integrate Environmental Objectives Into Other Goals. Programs to foster advances in industrial technology, transportation, natural resources utilization, and energy and food and fiber production and use will be designed to ensure that environmental objectives are integral to the research plans.

CISET's work incorporates the six Priorities defined in the Memorandum:

  • A Healthy Educated Citizenry.
  • Job Creation and Economic Growth.
  • World Leadership in Science, Mathematics and Engineering.
  • Improved Environmental Quality.
  • Harnessing Information Technology.
  • Enhanced National Security.

CISET members represent twenty two federal agencies and departments that conduct, or are affected by, federally-funded R&D programs. Three subcommittees have been formed to address budget priorities, obstacles and opportunities in international collaborations, and global issues. Most of the work of the Committee is done in working group meetings that are open to all member agencies, and aim to produce consensus results. Any CISET member organization can raise issues for Committee consideration, subject to the agreement of the Co-chairs. If a high-level policy decision is required, or if interagency consensus cannot be reached within CISET, any issue can be elevated for consideration by the NSTC. In accord with the principles of the NSTC, working groups can call upon the expertise of individuals and organizations from outside the government. To maximize its outreach to the non-government community, CISET will, under the leadership of OSTP, sponsor a public Forum on International S&T in early 1995.


Unlike most of the other eight NSTC Committees, CISET's mandate is not defined within any particular area of science or technology. The technical agencies of the U.S. government engage in a wide range of bilateral and multilateral international scientific programs that support their missions. The role of CISET is to review these activities, and to identify opportunities for international cooperation and interagency coordination in response to new needs and opportunities, without interfering with, or duplicating, existing interagency (or international) programs and procedures. In addition, CISET serves as a forum for establishing government policy on specific problems and issues that arise in the international S&T arena.

In pursuing the three goals defined in the previous section, CISET's concrete task is to identify or design the most effective forms of cooperation in the increasingly global context of U.S. science and technology efforts. International cooperation is of increasing importance due to:

  • strong pressures on science budgets throughout the world that require a pooling of scarce resources;

  • the ever-increasing number of areas in which the frontiers of knowledge can be significantly advanced, and the resulting expansion in the numbers of promising opportunities for cooperative R&D;

  • scientific imperatives towards large, complex projects in many fields of science;

  • increasing levels of scientific and technological excellence outside the U.S., particularly in the numbers of talented and highly-trained experts in a variety of fields;

  • increasing importance of conducting world-wide research studies in situ.

  • new opportunities for post-Cold War cooperation with former adversaries;

  • dramatic acceleration in the use of high-speed computer networks for data exchange and for real-time interactions among scientists and engineers;

  • increased global threats that require an international S&T effort, for example, HIV/AIDS and other new and re-emerging diseases.

It is important to pursue international collaborative efforts in such a way that American scientists, scientific institutions and, in the long run, the American people, are the beneficiaries of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in science. For example, sharing the costs of building and operating new research facilities may increase the scientific “purchasing power” of federal R&D dollars. New and existing cooperative arrangements with developing countries can be of particular value in selected areas of S&T. Projects that are specifically devoted to building scientific capacity in these countries can benefit the U.S. if they result in overall progress in vital areas such as tracking new infectious diseases, reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation, preserving biodiversity, developing new food crops, or promoting economic growth and international trade.

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International Science, Engineering & Technology - Table of Contents

Executive Summary

II. Strategic Plan

Summary of CISET Activities

III. Implementation Plan

III. Implementation Plan - continued