Governing Space

“Investing in science and technology is investing in America's future.… During the campaign and in my first days in office, I committed to reorganize and strengthen the White House science and technology function in order to implement my science and technology agenda”

-President Clinton, November 23, 1993

President William Jefferson Clinton Signing the Executive Order to Create the National Science and Technology Council

President William Jefferson Clinton signing an Executive Order for the establishment of the National Science and Technology Council in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. Vice President Gore and Director John H. Gibbons are present.

National Science and Technology Council

President Clinton officially established the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) as part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy on November 23, 1993, to strengthen and streamline the White House science and technology policy function with the issuance of Executive Order 12881. The council is co-chaired by the President and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Other members include the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, Agency Heads with significant science and technology responsibilities, and other White House officials where necessary.

Executive Order - President's Committee of Advisors on Space and Technology

President Clinton intended for the NSTC to significantly improve decision making by consolidating and elevating functions previously carried out by interagency councils.

The NSTC establishes national goals for federal investments in all areas of science and technology, including health research, information technologies, and fundamental research. The Council recommends strategies to be utilized across federal agencies to accomplish national goals.

National Space Policy

On September 19, 1996, the administration issued a new, integrated national space policy, which served as the first assessment of American space goals and activities since the end of the Cold War in 1991. The new policy committed the nation to a stronger program in space that addressed both U.S. civil and national security requirements.

White House Press Release concerning the New National Space Policy

The new National Space Policy consolidated a number of previous policy directives into a single, coherent vision of the future for the civil, commercial, and national security space sectors.

The policy reaffirmed a U.S. commitment to the International Space Station, revived by President Clinton in 1993, and to the next generation of launch vehicle programs. It called for the continued robotic exploration of Mars, sample return missions from celestial bodies within the solar system, and a long-term progrm to identify and characterize planets around other stars. It also maintained the nation’s commitment to a long-term program of environmental monitoring from space.

To stimulate private-sector investment, the National Space Policy committed the U.S. government to purchase commercially available goods and services for its space programs. The government was also mandated to offer stable access to federal space-related hardware, facilities, and data to the private-sector. For national security, the policy directed closer coordination between the Department of Defense and intelligence community activities that related to space policy.