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Bill in Congress Could Cut Back Research Grants


The Congress will soon pass on a bill which would-but probably won't-mean the end of most Defense Department research grants at Harvard.

A Senate-House conference committee this week approved a military procurement bill containing the so-called "Fulbright Amendment," which the Arkansas Senator introduced to forbid any Defense Department grant which does not have "a direct and apparent relationship to a specific military function or operation." Final approval of the bill is expected to be routine.

Most of the $4.2 million in Defense contracts which Harvard received last year went for so-called "pure research" projects, which have no direct military application.

President Pusey said this week, "I think Fulbright's motive was to get the Defense Department out of the business of pure research and to put such research under the National Science Foundation. Some of us are a little skeptical of whether funds will actually be transferred to NSF. In theory, I think they [the Defense Department] don't feel they're financing anything that doesn't have some military application."

Pusey and Dean Ford added, however, that scientists engaged in "pure research" financed by the Defense Department do not necessarily share that department's appraisal of their work. They noted that, in past years, the Defense Department had said that a project had military applications if even if it merely "increased the nation's capability."

Washington sources have indicated that the Defense Department will probably try to circumvent the bill by adopting some such broad definition of military applications. If it does, however, Congress may try to put stricter limitations on Defense-financed research, the source said.

The military procurement bill as reported by the conference committee did not contain a provision-passed by the House but not by the Senate-which would have forbidden the Defense Department to make any grants to universities until they had reported on their record "with regard to co-operation in military matters such as ROTC and recruiting on campus."

The striking of this provision had been anticipated since Defense Secretary Melvin Laird and even such conservative senators as Sen. Strom Thurmond (R. S. C.) had spoken out against it.

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