Golden Anniversary: 1985–1995
As the golden anniversary of the marriage approached, the compact between the science establishment and the federal government remained intact and as felicitous as long-term compacts between the government and its citizens are likely to be. During those fifty years, the U.S. experience also helped to define science support in industrially developed nations everywhere. The essential feature adopted by the United States and many other nations was support of peer-reviewed proposals for basic research by individual scientists.
By 1995 the U.S. science agencies had matured in their role as intermediaries between the government—the Congress and the president—and scientists. Important similarities and differences in character among the individual agencies showed up more clearly than before. Just as individual men and women age differently, some more fortunate in their lives than others, some welcoming and flourishing under change and some resentful and unaccommodating, so did the individual science agencies. The science function of the DOE was submerged under other tasks, and change was not welcome. In contrast, NASA continued the transition from its manned space flights to a period emphasizing broadly based science and technology.