In his campaign, Bill Clinton promised to funnel hundreds of millions of federal dollars into technologies to help U.S. industry become more competitive. But so far, few policy initiatives have come out. Part of the problem, White House sources say, is the difficulty of coordinating policy between agencies, from the departments of Energy and Commerce to Defense and the National Science Foundation.
White House science adviser John H. Gibbons has a plan to tackle the problem. Under President Bush, a few initiatives--such as high-performance computing and advanced materials--were started by an interagency committee known as the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, & Technology (FCCSET). But FCCSET usually couldn't affect individual agencies' programs. So Gibbons is proposing a more powerful, Cabinet-level National Science & Technology Council. It would replace FCCSET as well as the National Space Council and the National Critical Materials Council. Gibbons hopes that this new group, if approved by Clinton, will help get the Administration's technology policy on track.