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discipline to the process, basically. That is really what I am talking about.
Mr. WAGGONNER. What you are really saying is we need a reorganization within the executive branch of the Government to better advise the President, that he may present better budgets to us?
Dr. SEAMANS. To give him a better understanding of where we are applying our research and development. This is our investment in the future. On the long-term basis this is one of the most important decisions an executive makes when he is President. And yet he has, I believe, too little visability of really what is happening, what is going on.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Does he have too little visability because within the framework of the executive branch of the Government the agencies you
alluded to earlier are understaffed ? Dr. SEAMANS. No; I think it is just not put together in fairly simpletype functions each one of which can be readily understood.
I think it is a question of putting together the program in more understandable form.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Doesn't the President have the authority to do this by Executive order with the executive branch of the Government now?
Dr. SEAMANS. Certainly. And there is a report that is put out annually by the Executive Office-I guess it is by the Science Foundation, I am not quite sure—on where we are putting our dollars. But it is a pretty complicated report.
I spent some time with it. And I don't think it can be used either for the kind of decisionmaking I am talking about, nor can it be used to explain to the public what we are doing so that they have confidence that we have a proper set of priorities, and so that they in turn, incidentally, can indicate some displeasure if they don't like what is going on.
Mr. WAGGONNER. They don't seem to have any trouble demonstrating displeasure these days.
Dr. SEAMANS. They are demonstrating displeasure, but I am not sure they are very accurate in where they are placing their displeasure.
Mr. WAGGONNER. I certainly agree with that.
I think the seven points that you deal with here cover the spectrum. It just seems to me that
time we change administrations we have a reevaluation of our priorities and our goals are either accelerated or decelerated according to the whims of the man who sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I really don't know of a much better process if he brings around the people to properly advise him.
I would like to say that I think he made an excellent choice for the Secretary of the Air Force to advise him in that category.
Dr. SEAMANS. Thank you.
Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Seamans, I regret that I was unable to be here during the course of your testimony. Rather than ask any questions, I hope I might have the opportunity after reviewing the testimony and the questions asked of you by the committee to forward some questions to you of my own for the record.
Dr. SEAMANS. I would be happy to respond to any questions you have.
Mr. DADDARIO. Fine. I am pleased that you were able to come. And I am happy to see an old friend, Col. Bruce Arnold, back on Capitol Hill.
(Questions submitted by the subcommittee to Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr.)
Question 1. It common knowledge that the National Science Foundation has always had difficulty selling itself to Congress and the American public. What positive steps can you suggest that the Foundation might take to improve its image, extend its constituency and secure the funds corresponding to a national policy of continued preeminence for U.S. science?
Answer 1. When I appeared before your committee I stated that research and development funded by government must serve national objectives. Even basic scientific studies must demonstrate their relevance to the practical needs of the nation in order to justify continued governmental support. I believe the establishment of a national agenda for research and development would provide the National Science Foundation an opportunity to justify their budget requests on the basis of national goals. In addition, the National Science Foundation should devise means for determining the relative excellence of research results which are obtained under its sponsorship. Then it will be possible to explain to the Congress and the public at large the value of its program and this way extend its constituency well beyond the group that receives the research support.
Question 2. Has the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques had measurable effects on the management or organization of Federal science activities in your field of interest? Please elaborate.
Answer 2. I don't believe the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques has had a measurable effect in the management or organization of Federal science activities. Planning-programming-budgeting methods are useful for development programs where milestones can be clearly identified and costs allocated against their attainment. However, in scientific investigation it is not possible to predict when significant data will be obtained. Consequently, it is not possible to program and budget funds against the time when important results will be available.
Question 3. It appears that what you are really suggesting in advocating the formulation of a national agenda for R. & D. is an alternative program structure for the entire Federal budget. Must we not then determine total national priorities before we can determine R. & D. priorities? Whose responsibility should this be, if not that of the Bureau of the Budget?
Answer 3. I was attempting to emphasize that research and development funded by the government must serve national objectives. In order to plan and determine R. & D. priorities that will have a beneficial effect on our future, we must first develop a set of national goals and concomitant priorities. The determination of both national priorities and R. & D. priorities must be accomplished by the participation of the President, the Departments and Agencies of government, and the Congress and, of course, must have the support of the public. These national priorities cannot be prescribed solely by the Bureau of the Budget although, of course, the Bureau of the Budget will have an important role in this regard.
Question 4. What annual Executive Office report showing fund distributions were you referring to in your testimony? Do you have any suggestions either for its improvement or discontinuation ?
Answer 4. The National Science Foundation prepares an annual report entitled "Federal Funds for Research, Development, and Other Scientific Activities.” The report issued by Dr. Haworth in August 1967 included Fiscal Year 66, 67 and projection for 68. The report breaks out the research and development by type of work (basic research, applied research, and development), by discipline, i.e., oceanography, astronomy, geology, etc., by agency sponsorship, by type organization conducting the work (Government labs, non-profits, universities, industry). The report also shows Federal obligations for basic research conducted in foreign countries by region, country and agency. However, the research and development program cannot be correlated in this report against the kind of national objectives that I discussed with your committee. I believe it is possible to do so and if the budget were presented in this form it would provide the agencies of government, the Congress and the public with a much better understanding of those areas that are being neglected and those areas where too much emphasis is being placed.
Mr. DADDARIO. Our next witness is Dr. Myron Tribus, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology.
Dr. Tribus, we are happy to have you here. We will see to it that your biographical material is placed in the record. Please introduce the gentlemen with you and proceed.
Dr. TRIBUS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Robert B. Ellert, who is Assistant General Counsel in the Department of Commerce is accompanying me.
(Dr. Myron Tribus' prepared statement follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. MYRON TRIBUS
Mr. Chairman and members of this Subcommittee: Your committee report poses the question “Should the science activities of the Federal Government be centralized ?” My answer to this question will be as direct as the response of the young lady, who when asked, “Do you have trouble making up your mind ?” replied, “Well, yes and no."
The question of the control of science and engineering is too complex to admit a simple “yes” or “no” response. I agree on the importance of the questions raised in the committee report. Their very importance suggests that we ought to analyze carefully the alternatives actually available to us, the problems which prompted the questions in the first place, and our attitudes toward the possible outcomes.
C. P. Snow and others have called attention to a growing cultural dichotomy between science and the humanities. I feel this type of attitude is generated in part by the fear that science and technology might become ends in themselves. This fear must be disabused. Science and technology are not ends in themselves. The process which controls science and technology must be responsive to human needs. I cannot emphasize this point too strongly.
The nature of control of such a program should be appropriate to the objectives. Our judgment of any type of control will be dependent upon our view of the role of the Federal Government in supporting research and development. Without agreement as to the responsibilities of Government, there will be no guidelines for research and development projects. Different expectations regarding the role of the Government will lead to different evaluations of the effectiveness of any arrangement, centralized or not.
In the private sector, research and development is usually carried out with a view toward a specific end product. The Federal Government, on the other hand, carries our research and development for a wide variety of reasons. The Federal Government conducts research to promulgate standards; for example, standards for auto safety, or for air pollution. The Federal Government conducts research and development in order to provide information for evaluation ; for example, to guide purchasing by GSA. The Federal Government subsidizes the education of most of the engineers and scientists who study at the graduate level in the United States. For example, NASA and the AEC research and development contracts with universities have also served as a means of enticing young men into new fields. Project THEMIS, of the Department of Defense, is a frank attempt to create new centers of excellence in science and engineering throughout the country. The Federal Government engages in research and development to provide leadership in a field. For example, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, through its Taft Sanitary Engineering Center in Cincinnati, provides fundamental information on methods of sewage disposal. The Department of Commerce, through the National Bureau of Standards, provides fundamental information to the building industry.
As I have said, the Federal Government employs R&D for a wide variety of purposes. I need not dwell here upon the mission oriented research and development carried out by the Department of Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Space Agency, the Federal Office of Saline Water, the Maritime Administration, and the Post Office, to name a few. At the present time, no one person or committee really knows in detail how much research and development is being done by the Government, or precisely for what purpose, although the National Science Foundation, through its Federal Funds for Science, has provided much useful data and analysis of the overall nature of Federal support of research and development.
The Committee report uses the word "science" to cover a multitude of activities including basic research, routine engineering, data gathering, and engineering for production-all under one title. But the different activities included in "science” require different approaches in their management. Therefore, one point I wish to make is that the question as posed by the Committee is too broad. If we wish to respond to the problems which prompted the question in the first place, we ought to distinguish among basic research, developmental studies, developmental engineering, demonstration projects, and engineering for production. Each activity requires its own managerial style.
Science and technology are not ends in themselves. Managerial styles should not be chosen just to make science “healthy.” They should be chosen to make science and technology responsive to human needs.
As an idea moves from research to development and then to production it needs to be managed differently.
The research stages are the least expensive and the most resistant to close management. Bob Charpie, former president of Bell and Howell, made the point very well when he said, “the kinds of revolution, the kinds of upsets, the kinds of dramatic change that result in consequential action on the national economy often come out of the blue from unexpected quarters. The photographic industry did not invent instant photography; the textile industry did not innovate synthetic textiles; and tungsten carbide did not come out of the machine tool industry. In fact, a tabulation of 180 major technical innovations made in the first six decades of this century, shows only 20 percent of them came from within the industries, which they finally became part of. It's not only humbling, it is positively shocking to see how many of these came from outside the establishment."
He also said, “There are 200 enterprises in the U.S. which spend 94 percent of all the R&D dollars, yet 70 percent of the important innovations came from outside these 200 companies in the first sixty years of the century.”
Professor Joseph Ermenc of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College has made tape recorded interviews with important inventors, whose contributions have had a strong impact on our economy. Listening to Carlson describe the development of Xerox, or to Sikorsky talking about the early days of the helicopter, or Pilkington explaining his difficulties in getting anyone to accept his float method of making plate glass, I cannot help but wonder how it is that any invention survives and sees its way to the market place. As far as I can tell, just about every method we devise to attempt to control and promote invention, in fact serves to impede the inventor. Sometimes when we see a blade of grass growing up through a crack in the city sidewalk, we marvel at the tenacity of nature, which some how or another overcomes all of man's obstacles to growth. I feel the same way about inventors and inventions.
At the present time I happen to be deeply involved in planning for the development of weather modification and I, therefore, would like to cite it as another example of the relation between research and management. I was intimately associated with the earliest activities in this field. I was assigned to the Army Air Corps at Wright Field, during World War II and put to work on problems of ice prevention in aircraft. In this way, I met Irving Langmuir, who was then working on the problem of radio interference from static electricity on aircraft. His unorthodox approach to this problem got him into a quarrel with the authorities then in the field. These authorities controlled his budget. I was present in 1943 when they decided that Langmuir's project would be denied further financial support. I was so impressed with Langmuir that my office gave him a new contract to look into the trajectories of cloud droplets streaming past airfoils, thereby helping us to understand how ice forms on an airplane wing and to design equipment to protect against the ice. But Langmuir didn't confine himself to the question posed in the contract. He wanted also to know why the drops of water turned out to have the sizes they did. This led him to investigate the conditions of cloud growth on the summit of Mt. Washington.
When Langmuir began to understand the details of cloud formation, he turned his attention to the possibilities of cloud dissipation. Since this work was move ing outside the field of the original contract, I decided to take his ideas to the Weather Service, the place in which the support of weather research would logically have been centralized. The reaction of those then in charge was so negative that I was simply laughed out of the place. My belief in Langmuir
1 "Science and Technology," November 1968, p. 64.
was strong, however, and I therefore, arranged to support the work. Within a year, the first successful cloud seeding was accomplished. Today the Federal Government spends approximately $11 million per annum trying to develop a workable system, based on the research which began with Irving Langmuir. The point I make is that if science had been strongly centralized in those days, we might never have reached the point of demonstration. Langmuir summed it up in the statement, “The hardest thing to sell is a new good idea. If it is good and it is new many people will have to change their minds. They simply won't be willing to do so." I hasten to add that today the Weather Bureau, and all of ESSA, are staunch supporters of experiments in weather modification and wholeheartedly favor the work.
Almost without exception, every significant new idea in science has had to fight its way against the entrenched establishment. Scientists are no different than other people. In spite of the public image which portrays scientists as cold, logical, reasoning machines, I can assure you that the scientific establishment often resists change for much the same reasons as other sectors of society. The introduction of new ideas usually means the introduction of new rules of play and someone who is on top will certainly have to step aside in the readjustment.
My conclusion from a study of history, and from my own involvement in scientific research, is that those who think they can centralize the control of research ought to forget it and for two good reasons :
(1) They cannot succeed.
(2) If they even meet with partial success the major result will be the choking off of creativity. The things which can be done to enhance the probability of useful research are mostly in the categories of avoiding those things which hinder the process. Good scientific research requires a permissive atmosphere, reasonable financial support, and above all freedom. Freedom to try, freedom to publish, freedom to persuade, freedom to travel, freedom to make mistakes, and freedom to contribute.
To put it more bluntly, one should not try to centralize the control of research because it cannot be done without either serious detriment to the results or loss of necessary opportunity for the man with the new idea.
I have dwelt on the topic of research because I think it is important enough to justify a separate discussion of why we ought not to centralize it. On the other hand, I believe that engineering development can be managed and can be controlled much better than it is. If we consider the relative amounts of money spent on research and on development, it becomes obvious that the biggest gains to the taxpayers are most likely to come through attention to the processes of development and preparation for production. Dr. Hillier of RCA has suggested that as a crude measure of the funding required, we can say that for every dollar spent in research on a project, $10 must be spent in development and $100 in production. The actual outlay of funding in research, development and production does not correspond to the ratios 1-10–100, because many projects in research do not lead to development. Some of the developmental projects do not lead to production. But for any one invention the ratio 1-10–100 does seem reasonable. At the research end of the scale, we seldom know which idea will turn out to be the one we eventually wish to push through to development. That's why we start so many projects in research. Attempts to impose strong controls on research are apt to be counter productive. But when the decision has been made to move a research idea forward, and into production, the development ought to be managed very well. Poor management not only introduces costly mistakes on a large scale, but it can also delay the day when an idea reaches production. Revenue lost through tardiness never shows up on the balance sheet, but it is a real cost.
Earlier in this testimony, I suggested that we ought to consider the problems which generated the original question, rather than the question itself.
Many of the quotations in the Committee report attribute to former science advisers and to others and to a real frustration over their inability to do one of two things :
(1) Move an idea from the research phase to the development phase.
(2) Deploy scientific and engineering talent according to priority of national "problems." As examples of the former category, I would cite our attempts to launch a more vigorous attack on problems of ocean engineering, our attempts to develop