FAS was founded in November of 1945 by a group of scientists and engineers that emerged from those who had worked on the Manhattan Project, and those working at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. The group’s goal was to agitate for the international control of atomic energy and its devotion to peaceful uses, public promotion of science and the freedom and integrity of scientists and scientific research.
By 1948, the Federation had grown to nearly 2,500 members, and had been instrumental in the passage of the McMahon Act, which kept the nuclear arsenal under civilian and not military control, and the creation of the National Science Foundation, and had influenced the American position in the United Nations with regard to international control of atomic energy and disarmament.
In 1969, the FAS had a rough annual budget of $7,000 and relied on mostly volunteer staff. By the mid-1980s FAS began relying more on professional staff, analysts and researchers, as opposed to well-known scientists. The organization shifted toward public information and transparency in the government and away from secrecy in covert projects and finances. In 2000 Henry C. Kelly, a former senior scientist in the Office of Technology Assessment and science policy adviser in the Clinton administration, became the new president. Kelly continued FAS’ shift toward bolstering science in policy and focusing on using that science to further benefit the public.
In 2018, FAS took on a new era of policy entrepreneurship in addition to our existing work in the nuclear space. Our goal is to democratize the policy making process by giving experts and those with lived experience the tools to change policy for the greater good.