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The House of Representatives will probably act today on a bill which could spell the end of most Defense Department research grants at Harvard.
The crucial provision of the bill, which has already passed the Senate, forbids the Defense Department to carry out any research unless it "has a direct and apparent relationship to a specific military function or operation." Most of the $4.2 million Harvard received in Defense Department grants last year goes for so called "pure research" projects which have no direct military application.
The provision was written into the Senate bill on an amendment by Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), Fulbright has long opposed Defense Department research into social science areas and domestic affairs. Conservative members of the House and Senate support the provision as a way to "take a cheap shot at the intellectuals and the colleges," according to one staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Washington sources and Harvard officials expressed the view yesterday that while the provision will probably become law, the Defense Department might circumvent it by defining all their research grants as having a direct military application. They added, however, that if the Department adopts this stance, Congress may act again with even tighter controls.
Seven percent of the money Harvard receives from the Federal government comes from the Defense Department. One of the projects which could suffer under the new provision is the Cambridge Project, which Harvard is now considering joining along with M.I.T.
Also included in the bill before the House is a section which forbids the Defense Department to make any grantsto colleges until 60 days after "a full disclosure of the purposes, cost, and duration of such a contract." That disclosure must include a "statement summarizing the record of the school, college, or university with regard to cooperation on miltary matters such as ROTC and recruiting on campus."
Harvard officials are less concerned about this provision, since the Senate bill did not contain a similar section. The Defense Department will fight it in a conference between House and Senate members which will work out the final form of the law.
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird told the House Armed Services Committee last April. "We believe no congressional action is needed to protect ROTC."
Despite Laird's opposition, conservatives on the committee wrote the 60-day provision into the bill. Under severe pressure from their constituents to "do something about campus radicals" they called for a Pentagon estimate of the "attitude" of the college along with the report about cooperation on military matters. The "attitude" sentence was struck out before the bill reached the floor of the House.
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