Page images
PDF
EPUB

а.

with. Definitions are diverse. The language which one agency speaks as it refers to its science involvements is different from the language that another agency uses. This is really why we are asking these questions.

We recognize all of these things, that you are saying, and have for some time and believe that it is subject to analysis. We can, in fact, see to it that science is not only directed toward the needs of the human being and his individual advancement, but also that it can be better understood.

Dr. TRIBUS. Well, perhaps in reading the report I was misled by tenor, which says, in effect, we are putting forward a number of possibilities without necessarily taking sides, and that we are looking at a number of possible ways that science might be administered, the way decisions might be made relative to support of science and science activities. And, as I said at the beginning, I wanted to discuss the options open to us, and in particular to make sure that what might be construed as an option was or was not an option. I also want to make sure that we understood what the consequences of some of these options were. It didn't seem to me the committee report made this clear. In attempting to present all of these options as though they were equally valid options, the committee report left me with the impression that you would like a commentary on all of these options.

Mr. DADDARIO. Well, I think that ought to be clear and that obviously is not, at least insofar as you are concerned, and I must admit, too, to other people who have read it. On the other hand, as I have gone over it, it seems to me that it simply spells out a problem, sets out various alternatives. We recognize as a committee that when the testimony is in, we will then be able to create a model which the committee will then stand on.

I would doubt, too, that this report can in any way be taken by itself. The work of this committee over a long period of time in the area of patents and scientific inventions, geographical distribution of funds, and education generally, are all preludes to the investigation presently underway

I have difficulty going along with you because it appears to me that you are lecturing us about many things that we have as a committee gone into in great detail over a long period of time, and with which we are extremely familiar.

Dr. TRIBUs. Well, I certainly don't intend to try to give you in formation that you already have, or to present a point of view that you already have.

I took the committee report as the matter to which I should respond, and perhaps it would have been better had I gone back and read more of the proceedings of the committee, particularly in its previous work.

Mr. DADDARIO. Well, at any rate, I take no issue with you about what you are saying. Except that as we went along, I was compelled, in a sense, to break in to advise that what you were telling us is not new to us, that we had looked into these matters in detail, and to get that as a matter of record, because silence might have assumed that we were just beginning our work, and it has been going on for a long time.

Dr. Tribus. Well, the next point that I would like to try to make has to do with some specific examples of research that I have been in

volved in. I wish to make these points to establish a conclusion to which I have come, which conclusion may well have been reached by the committee. But it hasn't been apparent to me that it has. The point is, there is an enormously different style required in the management of research as compared to the management of development. Attempts to centralize the funding of research will be self-defeating.

Now, I have prepared some special examples of this from my own personal history and people I have worked with. If this point is well understood by the committee, I certainly can skip over it.

Mr. Daddario. No, I would like you to keep going as you have. Obviously it would be impossible for you to take into consideration some of these points I have raised. I just wanted you to recognize what basis we are on.

Dr. Tribus. Well, I think I should say at this point that I have read some of your speeches, Mr. Chairman, and I have heard you present them on more than one occasion, and I am quite sure that you have made many of these points before me.

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 what was then the Army Air Corps at Wright Field, Ohio, during World War II and put to work on problems of ice prevention in aircraft. In this way, I met Irving Langmuir, who then was a Nobel Prize winner, with the General Electric Co. He was then working on the problem of radio interference from static electricity on aircraft. Static electricity on aircraft generally occurs in snowstorms of the type which often involve icing conditions. 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 told just as he was about to lecture in 1943 that they had decided that his project was going to be denied further financial support because they had gotten into a technical quarrel with him.

Now, I was very much impressed with Langmuir, and so impressed that my office gave him a new contract to look into the stream lines of water droplets flowing past airfoils, because we thought that if we had better understanding of how these particles flowed we would understand better how the ice formed on the airplane, and we would therefore be able to design better protection equipment. But Langmuir didn't confine himself to the questions we posed in the contract. He wanted to know why the drops of water turned out to have the sizes they did. And so, he established a small group that investigated the conditions of cloud growth on the summit of Mount Washington, in New Hampshire.

When Langmuir began to understand the details of cloud formation, he then started to work on the possibilities of cloud dissipation.

Now, this work was outside the field of the original contract, and I decided to take his ideas to the Weather Service, which was then operated as part of the defense activity during wartime. This was the place in which the support of weather research would logically have been centralized.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

The reaction of those who were then in charge was so negative that I was laughed out of the place.

Now, my belief in Langmuir was very strong, and I therefore arranged to support the work. And within a year, the first cloud seeding was accomplished. Today the Federal Government spends approximately $11 million a year to develop a workable system to apply this research, which began with Irving Langmuir.

Now, the point I am making is that if science had been strongly centralized and controlled in those days, we might never have reached the point of demonstration. Langmuir summed it up for me in a statement, “The hardest thing to sell is a new good idea. If it is good and if it is new, many people have to change their minds. They simply won't be willing to do so."

Now, I hasten to add that today the weather bureau and all of ESSA are stanch supporters of experiments in weather modification and wholeheartedly favor the work.

Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Tribus, I would like to just for the record bring out the fact that this committee would agree that the management of research and development processes are to be handled in different ways. This committee has recommended for some years that the weather modification activities going on in the National Science Foundation be taken out of the National Science Foundation and transferred somewhere else. This proposition has been before President Johnson and before President Nixon, precisely because we believe that it ought to be handled in a different way.

But this is really what we are probing here. How do you manage all of these resources, recognizing that there are differences, and in the recognition of these differences still put together the kind of structure so that this work can be done in a more efficient, more understandable, and more direct way?

Mr. MOSHER. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. DADDARIO. Mr. Mosher.

Mr. MOSHER. At the same time, I am sure we recognize the point that Dr. Tribus is making, that we must not overmanage, that in our management arrangements we can sometimes discourage work that is essential, and that we always have to keep in mind leaving room for inventiveness and imagination and that sort of thing. I judge that is an important part of your thinking.

Mr. DADDARIO. Well, yes, Mr. Mosher, I understand that. I do think that it ought to be made clear, as we go along, that the committee is not taking the position that these matters ought to be strongly centralized. We offer that as one of the opportunities for discussion, because this is a question which has been raised by certain important members of the scientific community. It is before us not necessarily because we are proposing it, but because it has been proposed by others and ought to be examined.

As Dr. Tribus brought up some of these points, we are in agreement. The committee has taken some action which shows it recognizes the managerial style differences which Dr. Tribus has talked about, insofar as weather modification is concerned. My only point here is that despite the fact that these differences do exist, that a management and administrative technique should certainly be developed to take these differences into consideration so that there can be proper flexibility in development of our Federal programs.

Dr. TRIBUS. In view of the things you have said, Mr. Chairman, I think I will skip a couple of paragraphs here in my prepared material and move on to discussion dealing with the development processes as compared to the research processes.

I have dwelled on the topic of research because I thought it important enough to justify a separate discussion of why it ought not to be centralized; 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 particular 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 get up to development, and some projects in development don't go through to production. But for any one invention or for any one process, the ratio of 1-10–100 does seem reasonable and does seem to accord to the information that we have been able to gather on developments that have been made.

At the research end of the scale we seldom know which idea will be the one we eventually wish to push through development. And that of course is why we end up starting so many in research.

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 nevertheless.

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 a real frustration over their inability to do one of two things: either to move an idea from the research phase to the development phase, or to 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 operational weather modification, and our attempts to introduce innovations into the housing industry.

With regard to this frustration; that is, the inability to go smoothly from research to production, I would like to point out that no one really knows how to manage this process efficiently. It is a continuing problem in industry. I have served for about 20 years as a consultant in industry, and it is the problem that comes up most often in my consulting work: How do we move an idea from the laboratory into production.

In providing funds, the backers of a project are often of the belief that all that is needed is to build a demonstration device and then go

[ocr errors]

into production. If you want a specific example of this phenomenon, I suggest reading the hearings 15 years or so ago when the Office of Saline Water was established in the Interior Department.

At that time, five demonstration plants were authorized. It took quite a few years for the engineers and researchers to swing that program around to a more reasonable balance of activity. By the way, the process of which they are most proud, reverse osmosis, wasn't even one of the five first chosen for demonstration.

I have suggested before that the Congress should have independent sources of scientific and engineering advice. The National Academies of Science and of Engineering could be of considerable help in this connection and it has been encouraging to observe the effective relationship that has been established by your committee with the National Academy of Sciences.

I believe these academies could be used more extensively in the evaluation of the processes of developmental engineering, and that the National Academy of Engineering could be used as advisers on development in the same way the National Academy of Sciences has been used as advisers in the initiation of projects.

As examples of the second kind of frustration, consider our inability to deploy our talents effectively in the fight against water pollution, air pollution, noise, flammable fabrics, and the decay of center city.

I suggest that the difficulties here are not managerial or even organizational. The difficulties arise because we have not until very recently begun to make a commitment to these purposes. Whenever we have a clear-cut commitment to do something, we do find it possible to deploy our resources.

And as Dr. Seamans said before me, you can also take as examples, the attack upon the conquest of space, or our attack on the problem of producing lower cost electricity from nuclear processes. These commitments and the necessary funding occurred without a prior centralization of the control. The prerequisite was that we had decided to do something.

There are many purposes to which the Government can put development. While industry uses development to make products which it can sell at a profit, the Government attempts to use R. & D. to assist in meeting social ends. We try to apply better methods to our urban problems, as in our attempts to improve housing and transportation. We deploy scientific talent to combat environmental decay, as in our studies of water pollution.

We use research and development as the basis for economic improvement, as in our activities to develop better standards. We use research and development to provide for our common defense. We use research and development to extend or conserve our natural resources, atomic energy to extend our energy resources, water purification to extend our water resources, waterway development to extend transportation.

But in many cases the barriers to the application of this technology lie far beyond the question of the management of the development process. They involve the absence of a real commitment. I stress these points because it seems to me that it is extremely difficult to discuss the control of development until we determine in advance, and are committed to, the purposes for which control will be effected.

a

« PreviousContinue »