FAS was founded as the Federation of Atomic Scientists on November 30, 1945, by a group of scientists and engineers within the Associations of Manhattan Project Scientists, Oak Ridge Scientists, and Los Alamos Scientists. Its early mission was to support the McMahon Act of 1946, educate the public, press, politicians, and policy-makers, and promote international transparency and nuclear disarmament. On January 6, 1946, FAS changed its name to the Federation of American Scientists, but its purpose remained the same—to agitate for the international control of atomic energy and its devotion to peaceful uses, public promotion of science and the freedom and integrity of scientists and scientific research. For this purpose, permanent headquarters were set up in Washington, D.C., and contacts were established with the several branches of government, the United Nations, professional and private organizations, and influential persons.
By 1948, the Federation had grown to twenty local associations, with 2,500 members, and had been instrumental in the passage of the McMahon Act and the National Science Foundation, and had influenced the American position in the United Nations with regard to international control of atomic energy and disarmament.
In addition to influencing government policy, it undertook a program of public education on the nature and control of atomic energy through lectures, films, exhibits, and the distribution of literature, coordinating its own activities with that of member organizations through the issue of memorandum, policy statements, information sheets, and newsletters.
The mission of FAS is to promote a safer and more secure world by developing and advancing solutions to important science and technology security policy problems by educating the public and policy makers, and promoting transparency through research and analysis to maximize impact on policy.
Continuing the FAS tradition of international control of atomic energy and devotion to its peaceful uses, the Nuclear Security Program pursues projects that create a more secure world. SSP includes program work that focuses on reducing the risks of further nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
The Nuclear Information Project provides the general public and policy-makers with information and analysis on the status, number, and operation of nuclear weapons, the policies that guide their potential use and nuclear arms control. The project reports on developments in the nuclear fuel cycle that are relevant to nuclear weapons proliferation. The project puts technical information into a nonproliferation context and looks at case studies by conducting independent calculations and analyses.
The Government Secrecy Project works to promote public access to government information and to illuminate the apparatus of government secrecy, including national security classification and declassification policies. The project also publishes previously undisclosed or hard-to-find government documents of public policy interest, as well as resources on intelligence policy.
The project publication is Secrecy News, which reports on new developments in government secrecy and provides public access to documentary resources on secrecy, intelligence, and national security policy.
The Government Secrecy Project is directed by Steven Aftergood, who is also editor and author of Secrecy News.
The Biosecurity Program concentrates on researching and advocating policies that balance science and security without compromising national security or scientific progress. This includes preventing the misuse of research and promoting the public understanding of the real threats from biological and chemical weapons.
The Virtual Biosecurity Center provides the public with a resource to find the latest updates on biosecurity policy, bioterrorism information, and biodefense research.
The Arms Sales Monitoring Project (ASMP) worked to increase transparency, accountability and restraint in the legal arms trade; eradicate the illicit arms trade; and served as a repository of data on U.S. arms transfers and arms export controls. Project work focused on the arms trade, U.S. arms export policies, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons through the publication of reports and articles, media outreach, and public speaking.
The Arms Sales Monitoring Project was discontinued in 2014.
The Military Analysis Network offered information on U.S. and Foreign Weapon Systems, Munitions, and Weapons in Space. The Network provided resources and databases in several categories including:A guide to United States Munitions and Weapons Systems
Rest of World Military Equipment by Country Index
United States Military Logistics Index
Selected Country Military Summaries Index
Report on Weapons in Space
This is a legacy project and information is no longer updated by FAS staff.
The Learning Technologies Program (LTP) focused on ways to use innovative technologies to improve how people teach and learn. The LTP created prototype games and learning tools and assembled collaborative projects consisting of NGOs, design professionals, and community leaders to undertake innovative education initiatives at both the national and local level.
The Project worked to help create learning tools to bring about major gains in learning and training. The major project of the Program is Immune Attack, a fully 3-D game in which high school students discover the inner workings of the body's circulatory and immune systems, as they pilot a tiny drone through the bloodstream to fight microscopic invaders.
Immune Attack was jointly developed by the Federation of American Scientists, the University of Southern California, Brown University, and Escape Hatch Entertainment. Immune Attack is a supplemental teaching tool, designed to be used in addition to middle school and high school biology textbooks. It introduces molecular biology and cellular biology in detail that is usually reserved for college students. However, it uses the familiar and motivational video game format to introduce the strange and new world of cells and molecules.
The Learning Technologies Program was discontinued in 2013.
The Earth Systems Program (ESP) examined the increased stresses on the environment, including issues relating to energy, food, agriculture, water, and other natural resources, and to analyze how they interact with respect to international security. ESP was created out of the idea that technology should allow people worldwide to improve their living standards and amenities through secure and environmentally friendly ways. The program worked improve dialogue and trust between environmental scientists, policy makers, and the public, as well as to develop science partnerships to solve critical environment and energy problems.
The FAS Building Technologies Project was initiated in 2001 to focus the efforts of scientists and engineers who specialize in building materials on a range of issues such as structural engineering, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and architectural design to create homes that are safe, affordable, and attractive to builders and owners in the United States and abroad.
The Building Technologies Program worked to advance innovation in building design and construction that can improve quality, affordability, energy efficiency and hazard protection while lowering construction and operating costs. Technical advances, including new composite materials and prefabricated components, help to meet these goals in ways that are beneficial for builders and owners. The Building Technologies Project combined the talents of renowned architects and engineers along with the nation’s leading energy experts to embark upon housing issues in the United States and abroad.
Program areas included:Manufactured housing
Learning technologies and training
The Building Technologies Project was discontinued in 2012.
The Federation of American Scientists is led by a Board of Directors made up of renowned members of the science, business and academic communities.
Charles D. Ferguson is the President of FAS. Prior to FAS, he worked as the Philip D. Reed Senior Fellow for Science and Technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition to the many long and distinguished positions he has held, Ferguson is a widely respected physicist and nuclear engineer who has more than twenty years of experience in the field.
FAS membership includes numerous prominent American and international scientists, many of whom are current and former government officials. In addition, the FAS Board of Sponsors includes 63 Nobel Laureates.