MADRID—Spanish officials have begun work on a first-ever National Plan for Scientific Research and Development that is meant to rationalize and invigorate the country's entire research program.

Cell biologist Emiio Mufioz has been chosen to lead the effort, which stems from a law passed last year to promote and coordinate the country's R&D efforts. But Mufioz, who has overseen science policy for the Socialist government since it came to power in 1982, faces major obstacles to his goal of modernizing the country's administrative machinery in science.

His first challenge is to define which areas will be included in the plan, a project that must be completed before funds can be allocated in next year's budget. One sticking. point has been the slow pace of an intragovernmental panel, drawn from most of the ministries with research activities, that was expected to coordinate overlapping programs.

"We've included more than 100 different projects...

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