The preliminary plan for the proposed National Institute of Education (NIE) is outlined. The author discusses a conflict of interests and pressure between Congress and the educational community which seriously hampered confidence in the Office of Education's R&D program, and suggests that the NIE, to avoid this problem, must establish priorities to deal with multiple demands and policy to deal with conflicting ones. Because the pluralistic nature of educational goals will keep the Institute's efforts in the political limelight, the author recommends that the NIE should respond to Congressional concerns about education, but that it should not react to every political whim. Finally, the pluralism of theory and methodology, of conception and approach, in the independent research community and academia is discussed. The author feels that the NIE must seek a middle ground with an R&D program that is "targeted" in its delineation of problem areas but not so "directed" that it impedes prospective contractors in their development of innovative and adaptive approaches to problems.