[National Security Decision Directives (NSDDs)]

September 21, 1985



This directive establishes national policy for controlling the flow of science, technology, and engineering information produced in federally-funded fundamental research at colleges, universities, and laboratories. Fundamental research is defined as follows:

"'Fundamental research' means basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons."


The acquisition of advanced technology from the United States by Eastern Bloc nations for the purpose of enhancing their military capabilities poses a significant threat to our national security. Intelligence studies indicate a small but significant target of the Eastern Bloc intelligence gathering effort is science and engineering research performed at universities and federal laboratories. At the same time, our leadership position in science and technology is an essential element in our economic and physical security. The strength of American science requires a research environment conducive to creativity, an environment in which the free exchange of ideas is a vital component.

In 1982, the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation sponsored a National Academy of Sciences study of the need for controls on scientific information. This study was chaired by Dr. Dale Corson, President Emeritus of Cornell University. It concluded that, while there has been a significant transfer of U.S. technology to the Soviet Union, the transfer has occurred through many routes with universities and open scientific communication of fundamental research being a minor contributor. Yet as the emerging government-university-industry partnership in research activities continues to grow, a more significant problem may well develop.


It is the policy of this Administration that, to the maximum extent possible, the products of fundamental research remain unrestricted. It is also the policy of this Administration that, where the national security requires control, the mechanism for control of information generated during federally-funded fundamental research in science, technology and engineering at colleges, universities and laboratories is classification. Each federal government agency is responsible for: a) determining whether classification is appropriate prior to the award of a research grant, contract, or cooperative agreement and, if so, controlling the research results through standard classification procedures; b) periodically reviewing all research grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements for potential classification. No restrictions may be placed upon the conduct or reporting of federally-funded fundamental research that has not received national security classification, except as provided in applicable U.S. Statutes.