The diminishing capacity of the government to recruit top candidates for key government scientific positions has "long-term consequences ... very serious for the nation," a recent report issued by the Panel on Presidentially Appointed Scientists and Engineers states.

"There is considerable evidence of increasing difficulty in recruiting ... highly qualified appointees," according to "Science and Technology Leadership in American Government," and this has "a significant and harmful effect on the government's ability to manage ongoing problems and to undertake new initiatives."

The panel, created by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), a joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, issued its 90- page report in March, and its conclusions were far from comforting to scientists.

In short, says panel member Robert Seamans, Jr., a senior lecturer in the department of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts...

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