The National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976 established the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET). FCCSET was chaired by the Director of the National Science Foundation Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and included cabinet members or their deputies from 12 departments, heads of other agencies involved in science and technology, and representatives from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It was charged by the legislation with:
- providing more effective planning and administration for federal scientific, engineering, and technological programs;
- identifying research needs;
- using the science and technology (S&T) resources and facilities of federal agencies more effectively, including eliminating unwarranted duplication; and
- furthering international cooperation in science, engineering, and technology.
In the Reorganization Plan of 1977, President Carter abolished FCCSET and reconstituted it by Executive Order 12039 to advise and assist the Director of OSTP.
FCCSET operated through committees, subcommittees, and working groups and focused on six budget initiatives: Advanced Manufacturing Technology, High Performance Computing and Communications, U.S. Global Change Research, Advanced Materials and Processing, Biotechnology Research, and Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education. These initiatives evolved over time in response to administration priorities, council interests, and outside interests.
Participation in FCCSET initiatives was voluntary. Agencies that were interested in a particular initiative could commit agency funds to that initiative. The way the funds were used was also ultimately the decision of the participating agency. According to FCCSET procedures, once an agency committed funds it was not expected to reduce or withdraw them regardless of how appropriations change. However, FCCSET itself had no authority to redirect funds or to withhold funds for any reason. Each initiative had assigned to it one or two OMB budget examiners who provide advice, but authority for budget decisions rested with the agency head. There was agreement among experts in OMB, the General Accounting Office (GAO) (now the Government Accountability Office, and OSTP that FCCSET did not have the authority to establish priorities, direct policy, or participate fully in the budget process.
- Pub. L. No. 94-282.