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frustrations in the movement of funds to the researchers. Further, they elevated the importance of procedures to the point where administrative form became as important as scientific judgment as criteria for moving grant actions through NSF.

We were still able to move IDOE proposals through the system but with more delays and a great amount of bureaucratic effort. One successful procedure for avoiding the final hurdle of a National Science Board review was to break the IDOE projects into small enough segments to stay below the million-dollar level that would cause it to become a special item. This was done to avoid the additional delay, not because we were concerned about the merits of the projects or about final approval by the Board.

As pressure from congressional scrutiny of NSF management practices continued, the Foundation established a set of guidelines that made it even more difficult for the IDOE program. The new guidelines for the selection of reviewers were excessive in their zeal to avoid all biased judgment. They included a restriction against using reviewers from any university involved in the proposal, even though the reviewers were from different fields or in different parts of the university. Under these conditions, most of the scientists from major institutions were prevented from assisting in the review of large IDOE projects because most of their institutions were participants.

In spite of these bureaucratic hurdles, the decision to give responsibility for IDOE to the National Science Foundation was the right one. The Foundation had in place the review and granting mechanisms and the experience in dealing with the academic research community that would ultimately be responsible for carrying out the work of the program. Aside from the scientific results, which are not the subject of this paper, IDOE provided very important lessons to both NSF and the academic community in organizing, reviewing, and archiving the results of large-scale, cooperative research projects.

In 1977, NSF asked that the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering continue to provide advice and guidance on the nature of programs to follow the IDOE. In response, the Ocean Sciences Board of the Academy appointed a post-IDOE Planning Steering Committee, which organized a series of five planning workshops. These workshops formed the basis for a report issued by the NAS (1979) titled The Continuing Quest: Large Scale Ocean Research for the Future .

The 1979 NAS report concluded that, ''the IDOE was a watershed in the history of Ocean Research. By providing the structure and resources for large-scale, long term coordinated projects, the program gave a powerful impetus to the transformation of marine science from a descriptive effort to one increasingly driven by experimental and theoretical concerns."

The report recommended that a program of cooperative ocean research should follow and evolve from IDOE and that it should be sponsored by NSF as a major component of its overall efforts in fundamental ocean research. It listed 28 principal conclusions and recommendations regarding the future program and identified oceanographic opportunities for the 1980s. The Foundation has followed this advice and continues to fund the type of large-scale, long-term, cooperative projects that were the heart and soul of IDOE.


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Jennings, F.D, and L.R. King. 1980. Bureaucracy and science: The IDOE in the National Science Foundation. Oceanus 23(1) 12-19.

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