Daniel S. Greenberg's column of Nov. 13, "A Bum Rap on the New Research Institute," fell short of his usuall workmanlike competence. Although his witty literary allusions to my presumed political innocence are amusing, Greenberg is seriously misinformed about the reasons underlying my opposition to the proposed Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ISTC).
First, I emphatically do not, as Greenberg alleges, oppose lobbying by universities and their representatives. Academics have as much right under the Consitution as anyone else to seek political influence and federal largess.
The real issue, as Greenberg surely knows, concerns the role federal officials have played. Federal law prohibits the use of appropriated funds for propaganda, publicity and lobbying by employees of the government. Yet a report from the Sentate Appropriations Committee investigative staff states that "there was a planned and concerted effort by federal officials to contact a broad spectrum of private industry and university officials and other outside parties to seek their support for the authorization and funding of ISTC."
Possible violations of federal statutes by the official sponsors of a new agency are hardly irrelevant to its funding.
Greenberg also errs in suggesting that I referred these cases to the Justice Department. The cases now being investigated by Justice in this connection were referred by the White House following the initial inquiry by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Second, my opposition to ISTC does not, as Greenberg claims, stem from obscurantist antipathy to research per se; I have, on the contrary, generally supported the Agency for International Development's annual research and technical assistance budget, which is on the order of $275 million. This figure, of course, does not take into account the millions invested in research every year by multilateral development banks and United Nations agencies.
The creation of ISTC is thus hardly indispensable to an effective program of development research. It is, instead, simply an unnecessary addition to an already top-heavy, overgraded foreign assistance bureaucracy. Indeed, it is nothing short of a bureaucratic bonanza. Forty-nine percent of its permanent positions would be at the level of GS14 and above and carry statutory salaries, exclusive of fringe benefits, ranging from $34,713 to $65,750.
ISTC's planners also budget 35 fellowships at $42,857 each. No wonder the academic community has embraced ISTC with such enthusiasm.