This is an essay in two parts aimed at assessing the National Nanoscience Initiative (NNI) in light of the current trends in science management. The first part of the essay provides a critical survey of current trends in science policy from the points of view of industry, university and government. Many of the trends described are shown to inhibit rapid insertion of new, science-based ideas into the arsenal of technology. The second part of the essay focuses on the NNI. The degree to which major government initiatives, like the NNI, can exacerbate this inhibition or breakdown barriers to insertion is explored here.