The Soviet Academy of Sciences got more than it bargained for when in 1985 it created a commission to eliminate much of the red tape that has strangled innovation in the country’s more than 200 research institutes. Word of the cormmission’s existence sparked pleas for help from everyone from truck drivers to petty crooks in coping with the country’s gargantuan bureaucracy.

The panel has since revised Its title to the “Commission for the Regulating of the Style and Methods of Work of the Management of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.” But its new name doesn’t alter its monumental task—to battle a bureaucratic structure that has been the bane of the Soviet scientist’s existence since the early days of the communist state. Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost.and perestroika pronouncements have set in motion a series of programs (see accompanying story). Their aim, if nothing is to improve the efficiency of...

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