May 15, 2000Program contact:
NSF PR 00-30 (NSB 00-115)
(703) 306-1070/ [email protected]
(703) [email protected]
The National Science Board (NSB) today issued a statement saying it is concerned about indications that heightened security concerns, especially at federal labs over the past year, are causing a growing difficulty in recruiting, hiring and retaining foreign-born and native-born minority scientists and engineers.
SCIENCE BOARD ISSUES STATEMENT ON NEED FOR OPEN COMMUNICATION AND ACCESS
The statement, approved by the NSB at the close of its May 2000 meeting in Arlington, Va., is an effort "to restore some balance in the public policy dialogue on this issue," said NSB Chair Eamon Kelly.
"This is a critical issue. The country needs to look at it carefully," added NSB member Robert C. Richardson, vice provost for research and a professor of physics at Cornell University.
The NSB statement said that the benefits of international exchange to American science and technology are at risk of being curtailed by "generic restrictions - defined by nationality or ethnicity - on access of personnel to U.S. laboratories, supercomputers and intellectual 'exports' in the form of scientific meetings and other modes of communication."
"It's already happening," said Chang-Lin Tien, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley and an NSB member. Referring to instances of hiring and visa slowdowns, enormously elaborate security procedures and a general atmosphere of distrust in some research corners, Tien offered that science and engineering risk losing U.S. and foreign-born Asian Americans if "racial profiling becomes a practice in hiring and promoting at Federal labs and other research facilities."
"The recruitment issue also relates to native-born minorities," Kelly added. "Between 30- and 50-percent of the Ph.D.s in our natural science and engineering work force is foreign born, so it is a potentially serious problem for the entire scientific enterprise."
Board members agreed in the statement that discouraging talented scientists and engineers from working in research facilities for reasons of national origin, ethnicity or citizenship would "curb the flow of ideas, preclude collaboration with peers and inhibit critical knowledge transfer that could undermine our long-term security interests..."
"Merit of ideas, not characteristics of their originators, has been a core value of modern science," the NSB's Bob H. Suzuki, said. Suzuki, who is president of California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, said that national security issues must be balanced against this value, or "grave harm will result to the U.S. role in global affairs, not just science and engineering."
The NSB statement affirmed the importance of protecting U.S. defense science and safeguarding national security. But it also underscored the importance of international scientific exchange and cooperation to the long-term national interest.
"To sustain the health and preeminence of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, the full utilization of talent and open international exchange - across sectors, institutional settings and disciplines - are essential wherever research is conducted," the statement concluded.
Attachment: NSB Statement on Open Communication and Access in Science and Engineering. Also see: http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/press/00/pr0030.htm
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
STATEMENT ON OPEN COMMUNICATION AND ACCESSIn Federal laboratories over the past year, due to heightened security concerns, there are indications of growing difficulty in the recruitment, hiring, and retention of foreign-born scientists and engineers and native-born minorities because of perceptions based on nationality, ethnicity, or other characteristics.
IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
ADOPTED AT THE 358TH MEETING, MAY 4, 2000
American science and technology have greatly benefited from international exchange and cooperation and from the contributions of foreign-born scientists and engineers who migrated to the U.S. and worked in our universities and Federal research facilities. In the future, there is a risk that such benefits could be curtailed by generic restrictions - defined by nationality or ethnicity - on access of personnel to U.S. laboratories, supercomputers, and intellectual "exports" in the form of scientific meetings and other modes of communication.
U.S. leadership in both defense and civilian arenas and our national well-being depend on employing the best talent, research facilities, and equipment and on maximizing the open exchange of ideas to foster advances in science and engineering knowledge. Discouraging scientists and engineers from working in world-class research facilities for reasons of national origin, ethnicity, or citizenship would curb the flow of ideas, preclude collaboration with peers, and inhibit critical knowledge transfer that could undermine our long-term security interests in areas such as nuclear nonproliferation and waste cleanup.
The National Science Board affirms the prime importance of protecting U.S. defense science and technology and safeguarding national security while maintaining openness in scientific communication. Rather than contribute to more effective security, policies that restrict such open communication and exchanges squander human talent and deny American science and engineering the benefits of openness and excellence. Our long term national interest underscores the importance of having policy makers recognize the substantial benefits our Nation receives from international scientific exchange and cooperation.
To sustain the health and preeminence of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, the full utilization of talent and open international exchange -- across sectors, institutional settings, and disciplines -- are essential wherever research is conducted.
The National Science Board is the governing board of the National Science Foundation and provides advice to the President and Congress on matters of science and engineering policy.