Of all countries bordering on the Arctic, the United States is the only one without a national institute, laboratory, or any other organization devoted to the sustained planning and support of Arctic research. Up to now, the responsibility for planning, implementing, and funding Arctic research has been divided between several federal agencies, the state of Alaska, and private groups whose mandates or objectives are often unconnected.
The result of this pluralistic approach to U.S. science in the Arctic is that basic research has been conducted in piecemeal fashion. Individual studies are proposed and supported separately, and their costly logistic requirements must be funded in competition with research carried out under less-demanding environmental conditions in the rest of the country. Fundamental data-gathering and interpretation of information has been the responsibility of public agencies whose missions are separate and whose budgets may not reflect the priorities of Arctic issues.