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APPENDIX A 47 Appendix A Federal Activities for International Technical Information Flow The National Technical Information Service (NTIS), administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a central source of scientific and technical information, especially for that resulting from research conducted or supported by the federal government. All reports in its files are available to the public for a fee. By law, NTIS is required to be self-supportingâhence the public user charge. Indeed, the administration has recently made proposals to privatize the NTIS entirely. NTIS acquires about 70,000 new technical reports annually and currently holds more than 2 million reports. For the most part, documents with English-language titles and abstracts are entered into the collection. Some 25 percent of the current annual increment is of non-U.S. origin, a substantial portion not in English. It was estimated that in 1984 Japanese papers accounted for 5 percent of foreign-title holdings. Average sales of the Japanese reports were 12 copies per year; the average sales for all foreign reports were 5 copies per year. In 1981, NTIS established its Foreign Technology Acquisition Program (FTAP) to improve the access of U.S. industry to foreign technology information. The purpose of the FTAP effort is to identify industry needs and then to acquire useful information for translation and dissemination to U.S. industry. It is estimated that Japanese acquisitions now account for about 20 percent of the NTIS FTAP effort, most of the balance being from industrialized Europe. Aside from budget constraints, one difficulty with respect to the Japanese literature is the shortage of qualified translators with technical background. Perhaps more important is the lack of persons with sufficient language skills and technical expertise to evaluate source material, compare it with current information, and select material for translation. Although the situation in technical literature other than Japanese is not as much of a problem, the
APPENDIX A 48 evaluative aspects are also present to some degree. A further problem with Japanese is the high cost of translation, about $100 per 1,000 words. Since all its operations are financed through sales revenues, NTIS is cautious about committing revenues to translation without a proven market. At times, Japanese-language documents judged to be of high interest are translated at NTIS expense; however, only three documents originating in Japan were translated in 1985. For the several reasons suggested, English-language versions of Japanese and other foreign language documents often are available only 3-5 years after the work described in them has been done. In August 1986 the Japanese Technical Literature Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-382) was enacted to provide focus within the federal government for increasing the availability of Japanese technical literature in the United States. The act enjoins NTIS and other appropriate sections of the Department of Commerce to monitor Japanese technical activities and developments; to consult with businesses, the professional societies, and others about their needs for such information; to acquire and translate selected documents that may be of value not only to government but also to the private sector; and to coordinate with other federal agencies in acquisition, translation, indexing, and dissemination, including the dissemination of an annual directory identifying all government services from collection through distribution of Japanese scientific and technical information. Much of this activity is required to be self-supporting, like other NTIS services. Nevertheless, there should be increased awareness of Japanese scientific discoveries and technical innovations through the required annual reports from the Secretary of Commerce on areas such as computers, semiconductors, biotechnology, robotics, and manufacturing. NTIS translations and holdings are not the only source of technical information supported by the government. There are numerous activities with characteristics determined by agency missions. The National Science Foundation, for example, supports two overseas listening posts. The NSF Tokyo Office, with one U.S. and one Japanese professional, seeks to keep abreast of science and technology developments in Japan and makes information available through Report Memoranda, such as its 1986 Directory of Japanese company laboratories willing to receive American researchers. A new start was made for the European area by the recent establishment of a similar NSF office in Paris following elimination of the post of U.S. science representative to UNESCO. The Japanese Technology Evaluation Program (JTECH) is another program directed at technical assessment. Sponsored by the Department of Commerce with support from the National Science Foundation, JTECH began in 1983 as a pilot program to evaluate selected areas of Japanese advanced technology. The program is intended to provide technical inputs for those charged with making âtechnical forecasts and competitive assessments, determining viable U.S. industry responses, and establishing directions for U.S. research and trade policies.â The assessments focus on âcurrent status and long-term direction and emphasis of Japanese research and development
APPENDIX A 49 effortsâ with a time frame of about 10 years for forecasts, corresponding to future industrial applications and commercial potential some 5-20 years later. Since 1983, four reports have been produced: Computer Science in Japan (1984); Mechatronics in Japan (March 1985); Opto-Microelectronics (May 1985); and Biotechnology in Japan (June 1985). Experts from industry, academia, and government participated in the preparation of these reports, which include comparative assessments of U.S. efforts. Similar activities have been conducted by the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA), both agencies of the Department of Commerce. ITA undertook a series of competitive assessments and by mid-1987 had completed studies for 33 industries. Under a cooperative research agreement with EDA, the private Industrial Research Institute, a trade association of executives responsible for industrial research, carried out a series of business assessments of selected industries. Since 1983, this program has produced 10 reports intended to âstimulate the identification of technical opportunities that might make the industry more competitive in worldwide markets, and hasten the commercialization of advanced technologies.â Another contributor to technical information flow was the Office of Technology Assessment and Forecast (OTAF), which was closed in 1985. Administered by the Patent Office, OTAF made available data on patent trends outside the United States as part of its charter to monitor and organize information on inventive activity. Because of the importance of the U.S. market, significant foreign inventions are usually promptly patented in the United States. U.S. foreign patent activity thus provides a reasonably accurate indicator of foreign interests and intentions. There have been proposals to reestablish a strengthened OTAF because of its value to U.S. industrial competitiveness. The congressional Office of Technology Assessment maintains an active program of providing reports that frequently survey technologies, the technology base, and technology policies outside the United States. The Congress has recently also emphasized NSF's charge to carry out assessments of progress in engineering and science in the advanced countries. The largest nonmilitary program of technical personnel stationed abroad, is that of the Department of State, which houses a set of professional employees charged with monitoring science and technology policy developments and acts as host to professionals from other agencies in related areas such as commerce, agriculture, and minerals. The State Department has about 100 âscience attachÃ©s,â of whom about 40 devote full time to science and technology. Of the current staff of science attachÃ©s, seven have an engineering background. The mission of the science attachÃ©s covers many areas but primarily policy issues such as global environmental change and safeguards for protection of nuclear materials. Only a minor portion of the attachÃ©s' activity is concerned with the health of the U.S. engineering and technology enterprise.
APPENDIX A 50 The most extensive government overseas technology assessment programs are those of the Department of Defense (DOD). DOD's programs are directed primarily at technologies of military interest, but inevitably cover technologies of commercial interest as well. In many cases the distribution of reports may be limited to university and industry experts involved with DOD R&D efforts. However, much information is made available in unclassified documents. The longest lived of the DOD science and technology liaison efforts is that of the London office of the Office of Naval Research (ONRL), organized after World War II. ONRL's primary activity is reporting on European scientific progress, published and unpublished. The ONRL staff of scientists and engineers is drawn largely from military research organizations and universities. In 1985 its civilian and military professional staff of about 10 persons visited installations in 17 countries from England to Israel, supported 13 conferences in 7 countries, organized 3 workshops with invited participants from 9 countries, assisted 49 U.S. scientists in arranging 104 visits to European installations, and prepared 146 Military Applications Summary Bulletins, 54 Science Newsbriefs, 15 special ONRL Reports, and the monthly unclassified European Science Notes. ONRL efforts are complemented by those of the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development and the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Standardization Group. Similar DOD organizations in Tokyo are the Far East offices of the Office of Naval Research (with a professional staff of three civilian scientists), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office. The Scientific Bulletin published by these offices is designed to provide insight on Japanese and other Far East science and technology activities of interest to the Defense Department. The bulletin is unclassified and available to the public. Another Defense Department-funded activity is the Foreign Applied Sciences Assessment Center (FASAC), a contractor-operated program âto improve U.S. knowledge of applied science and to increase awareness of new foreign technologies with military, economic or political importance.â Its reports are intended to reduce the possibility of technological surprise, support estimates of the consequences of technology transfer, and provide a background for U.S. research and development decisions. Although FASAC activities cover applied sciences and the identification of emerging technologies worldwide, emphasis is placed on research in the Soviet Union, âresults of which that country seeks to translate into new technology.â Started in 1984 by the Defense Intelligence Agency, Project Socrates is another program (largely classified) to provide foreign technology assessments for policymakers involved in export licensing, export control and enforcement, international export deliberations, and military issues.