The relationship of scientific communication to national security has been a critical concern of the National Academies since the early 1980s, when the National Research Council published the report,
Scientific Communication and National Security,
on the effect of national security-related controls on basic scientific research. This report provided the intellectual framework for the 1985 National Security Decision Directive 189 that defined the boundaries of fundamental research conducted by federally funded colleges, universities, and laboratories. As codified in NSDD-189, “No restrictions may be placed upon the conduct or reporting of federally-funded fundamental research that has not received national security classification, except as provided in applicable U.S. Statutes.”
Since the end of the Cold War, the relationship between scientific communication and national security has changed considerably. Yet the current federal regulatory system still reflects Cold War assumptions that (1) the United States alone produces a significant number of military and dual-use items; (2) the United States and its allies agree what defense-related technologies and items should be controlled, and how to control them; (3) it is possible to identify, isolate and control the transfer of knowledge and technologies that could be used for illicit purposes.
The National Research Council has convened the Committee on Scientific Communication and National Security (CSCANS) in order to consider new approaches to regulating science and technology that will support our national security, our scientific preeminence and long-term economic growth. CSCANS’ purpose is to promote sustained cooperation between the scientific and security communities, and to identify the chief problem areas in the “science and security nexus” and strategies for addressing them. The Committee’s membership is composed of former government officials and an authoritative group of leaders from the academic, high technology, business, legal, and scientific communities, who will have significant impact in today’s policy environment.
The Committee has an ambitious set of planned activities, including a landmark study of relevant changes in the relationship between science and security that have occurred since over the last quarter-century. The study will examine how globalization and advances in technology have changed science, the economy, and national security. The goal of this study will be to recommend policies and self-regulatory schema that ensure the integrity of the American scientific enterprise and safeguard our national security, while maintaining the flexibility to meet unexpected or rapidly evolving challenges.