“The politics of science and technology has returned with a vengeance—or perhaps it never left,” Mary Good, head of the National Science Board, told a gathering of Washington scientists and policy-makers on March 30. Good addressed a spectrum of U.S. science issues, providing a chance to take the pulse of an important science policy- maker. The 24-member board that she chairs sets policy for the National Science Foundation.
Good strongly criticized current attempts in Congress and elsewhere to create one over-arching policy for science, technology, and competitiveness. “We need to get these three areas separated out,” Good said. “They are truly three different subjects.” The issue is part of an on-going debate in Congress over the character of U.S. industrial policy. Congressional committees often ask how a science program under scrutiny will contribute to the nation's ability to compete in the world marketplace. “My cohorts in industry say that the one thing we must have from the universities is quality manpower; that's the first priority,” Good said. Second on the list is to forge links between academia and industry to keep industry's “in-house talent” at the cutting edge.