18. Information Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Office of International Scientific and Technological Affairs (Pollack) to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach)1


  • Interdepartmental Committee Report on the Technological Gap

The attached report2 prepared by the Interdepartmental Committee on the Technological Gap chaired by Dr. Hornig was submitted to the President on December 22, 1967. The President has reviewed the report and, in line with its recommendations, has referred the report to the Senior Interdepartmental Group.

Studies undertaken by NATO, the OECD, the European Communities and various private organizations, and discussions between ourselves and European leaders during the past year have done much to clarify the economic and social factors involved in the Technological Gap, and have helped dissipate the political pressures which tended to dominate the early stages of the debate on this subject.

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The OECD Science Ministerial meeting, which was held March 11–12, 1968, constituted another major step in this progression. The most important results of this meeting, attended not only by science and education ministers, but also by some ministers of economics and industry, were: (1) a clear endorsement of the results of the OECD studies, which in most respects parallel the conclusions presented in the Report to the President; (2) a consensus that national and joint action on the part of Europeans will be required as the principal contribution to technological progress in Europe; (3) a general political relaxation and a turning away from a “blame the U.S.” philosophy to a more realistic intra-European introspection. Evidence is thus at hand that the U.S. strategy first enunciated in the Preliminary Report to the President in January 1967, and further detailed in the final report of December 22, 1967, has been and is successful in dealing with the problems engendered by the Technological Gap.

It is my view that most of the recommendations and tasks enumerated in Annex A3 are being pursued in an orderly fashion by appropriate government agencies. I am satisfied that the present efforts in these areas are sufficient to meet U.S. needs and see no need to inject a sense of urgency into the studies and actions now underway. I would suggest that studies underway be continued and remain principally directed at their original aims. Those items requiring additional comments are as follows:

Since this report was written, the Commerce Technical Advisory Board has broadened its scope to include all relevant aspects of government and industrial policies affecting international transfer and use of technology.
In the case of the studies of the Cabinet Committee on the Balance of Payments and those underway in the Office of the President’s Trade Representative, I propose bringing to the attention of the heads of these groups the report to the President and pertinent reports of the OECD in order that they can take note of some of the special problems inherent in research-intensive sectors of the economy.
The Department of Defense is urged in the report to assess the feasibility of reducing selectively the 50% bidding differential for foreign procurement of research-intensive products. DOD, DOT, NASA are asked to study the possibilities for more joint R&D, and promoting consortia between U.S. and European firms including the question of procurement programs. In light of our present Balance of Payments difficulties, it does not seem desirable to pursue either goal at this [Page 41] time. A study, viewing the situation in the long term, may, however, be profitable.
Under present budgetary restrictions it does not seem practical to ask the Congress for monies to increase US-Western European educational exchange programs.
Intensive and continuous efforts are being made to improve overall scientific and technical cooperation with Western Europe and Japan. The matter of scientific and technical information exchanges is being vigorously and urgently pursued in special committees of the OECD and UNESCO/ICSU.

The report is being transmitted to our Ambassadors in OECD countries and they have been asked to comment on the desirability of publishing an edited version of the report. As far as any other publicity is concerned, it is my recommendation that for the present it be kept to a minimum.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, State Department, Senior Interdepartmental Group, Memos and Misc. [II], Box 60. Confidential. Drafted by Oswald H. Ganley (SCI) and cleared by William M. Kerrigan (E), William G. Barraclough (EUR/RPE), and Donald R. Lesh (U/SIG). The source text is Attachment A to a July 2 memorandum from Arthur Hartman to SIG members, informing them that after Presidential review, the report had been referred to the SIG and circulated to U.S. overseas missions in OECD countries for information. The memorandum also indicated that no immediate action was required.
  2. Not printed; footnote 2, Document 17.
  3. Reference is to the attached report.