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tightly controlled and I will show you an outfit that isn't doing anything
Mr. WAGGONNER. Are you telling me that as far as dollars are concerned, there are no controls over research laboratories, that they don't have limits beyond which they can't go?
Dr. TRIBUS. Oh, they do, they do. They have limits.
But where somebody comes in and says, I need a million dollars' worth of equipment, then all of a sudden it is a new game because we have moved up from the 1 to 10 to 100. When somebody wants money for a linear accelerator, there is so much money involved, that you have got to have a good control of how much you spend on it.
Mr. WAGGONNER. You are getting me confused, Doctor. On the one hand you say we shouldn't have control, then you say obviously we have got to have control.
Dr. TRIBUS. I have said when we move from research to development we should have control.
Mr. WAGGONNER. But you weren't talking about moving from research to development.
Dr. TRIBUS. When ever you deal with a single project that begins to have amounts of money involved in it that are comparable to the GNP, like 1/100 of 1 percent of the GNP, obviously you can't make a decision like that without everybody getting involved.
But that is not what most of the funding of the research in this country consists of. Most of the funding of the research in this country consists of projects that are not anywhere near that size. Now, as soon as you get into development, then we are talking about a potential commitment of a lot of money, and everyone in industry has to figure out how to manage that.
And as I say, the major frustration in industry right now is how you take something from that stage, where it was small enough that only a few people were involved, and largely it was the reputation of the man that decided whether they would go ahead—how you take it from that stage to the stage where you are putting a lot of money in it. No one in this United States really knows how to do this welì. There are, however, a few companies which feel they are good at it.
I have talked with the manager of research at the 3M Co. They think they are pretty good at it, and I have observed that they seem to do a pretty good job. But when you get behind the scenes and start talking to them about how they do a lot of this decisionmaking, you see that it is an art in which the personalities of the people seem to play the dominant role.
Nr. WAGGONNER. I was interested in your statement, Dr. Tribus, about centers of excellence and whether we should provide these socalled centers of excellence to a greater extent than we do, or whether we should allocate research on a sort of a welfare basis. You use the term “a welfare basis.” I would like for you to elaborate a little bit there.
How do we serve the needs of a growing population and a more complicated society by not broadening the base and creating additional centers of excellence ?
Dr. TRIBUS. Well, I think-to come back to one of the themes I tried to stress in this presentation, I think we need to agree upon our goals. And I think it would be proper—in fact, I advocated this: that certain funds be set aside and frankly be used in the sense of welfare to create educational centers that do not now exist or where they are not well supported.
I said during this period that I was serving as a consultant to NSF, “I just want you fellows to decide what our objective is, because as soon as we decide that we are going to support a social welfare objective, then I have different criteria for deciding who to give money to. I have different things I would require from them on their side to do.
On the other hand, if you want this money to go where we are going to get the most in the way of research results, I am going to exclude this particular university from further consideration, because it is clear that they haven't got a chance, but I think we ought to help them.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Well, you have answered the question. You think we ought to help them.
Dr. Tribus. Yes, I think we should, and I tried to express that.
Mr. WAGGONNER. I certainly agree with you. I think we have given too much attention to a few so-called centers of excellence, we have some others who are deserving sitting on the sidelines with their hand out begging for a crumb, and they haven't gotten it.
Dr. Tribus. But the manner in which the funds are given, if we decide that it is a social welfare purpose, will be different. The things we would ask the recipient to do should be different. We should frankly get in and plan to give our money in such a way that it leads to strength. Because--for example, this happened to be a small Negro university in the South that just has a very small, weak department of chemistry, And it is obvious what we should have done, was just turn around and give them money for equipment and to support some of their people, to work in the summer and perhaps even go away and work at some other institution, and learn some things to come back so they can do a better job of teaching, and that the exact nature of the proposal for research and whether it was avant-garde and so forth was really secondary.
On the other hand, when we get someone from a good institution coming around with a proposal, we ought to look at it and we ought to be pretty hard and say, look, this isn't first-rank, it has already been done somewhere else, and stop it.
Mr. WAGGONNER. How do you make these judgments that an individual from one school or another has ability or doesn't ?
Dr. TRIBUS. Well, sometimes it becomes pretty obvious as you read the proposal and read his references and read what he has to say about his work—it becomes pretty obvious that this fellow is up with the field or not. Now, in some cases you have been wrong, and I have been wrong sometimes in these judgments. But in general you can tell, just looking at the facilities of the institution and the people around him.
Mr. WAGGONNER. You can judge the capability of an individual by looking at the institution?
Dr. TRIBUS. Oh, no, not entirely. You have a whole series of things you have to look at.
And as I say, you often make a mistake.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Take an application from one of these so-called weaker institutions that is poorly prepared as contrasted to a wellprepared proposal from some center who has participated in a number of Federal programs. Do you assume from the outset that that individual prepared that application, or that they hired somebody who had experience to do it?
Dr. TRIBUS. If we are talking about scientific research, it comes through pretty quickly when you read the proposal for what is to be done and why it is to be done and how it is to be pursued and from the background that the man brings to bear. And I have in some occasions seen proposals from so-called weak institutions that have been excellent. And I have said, this is great, let's give this support.
I am asked as an adviser to the NSF-or was asked in the past, to rank the proposal, the man, and the institution separately. And it is more than once that I have said I can't say anything good about the institution because I never heard of it, but this proposal sounds very good and we ought to give this fellow a chance. And it is very unlikely that that proposal was written by somebody else.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Mr. Chairman, I have further questions that I could ask, and I will prepare them for the record.
Mr. DADDARIO. It would probably be best, Mr. Waggonner. And I think your line of questioning does lead to a whole series of others that ought to be prepared for the record.
Dr. Tribus, we would like to take advantage of you in that regard and will send some questions.
(Questions submitted by the subcommittee to Dr. Myron Tribus :) Question 1. It is 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. I believe that the difficulty the National Science Foundation has in selling itself to Congress and the American public is directly related to problems inherent in the American culture. We are not primarily a scienceoriented nation. It has always been a small minority of Americans who have concentrated on science. Now the problem threatens to get worse, because the impact of science is growing, and the fraction of our young people turning to science is diminishing. There is a very serious communications problem between the National Science Foundation and the rest of the science community on the one hand, and the nation on the other.
This problem is compounded by the fact that, in our society, people confuse “science” and “engineering.” It seems often to be the case that people who think they are supporting science are in reality supporting engineering. The important work in science frequently originates in undertakings which do not appear to be particularly useful; and yet, for many years, scientists have been most successful in selling themselves and their programs when they have been successful in selling the end product. Elementary science textbooks often begin by generalizing about the wonderful things science does for society, and then proceed to describe engineering achievements. In my judgment, this basic misunderstanding about science is the root of the problem which now confronts the National Science Foundation.
If we accept this difficulty of communications as a central problem, it becomes evident that there are a number of steps which can be taken immediately by the National Science Foundation to improve its relations with the society which supports it. First, I think the Foundation should make a greater effort to identify and publicize its most successful projects in terms which laymen will find interesting and understandable. I believe it is possible to demonstrate that there are now many people in science and engineering whose important contributions are directly attributable to the support of the National Science Foundation. Probably the greatest contribution the Foundation makes is in support of scientific research and development in the colleges which educate men and women who go into industry and commerce, there to produce the high technology products and services which account for our unique standard of living.
The National Science Foundation should be allowed to spend those sums necessary to generate public information materials which will help science writers and editors bridge this different kind of a "technology gap” which separates the scientist/engineer from the layman. I believe the Congress and particularly this Committee, should encourage the Foundation to increase its public information efforts to the extent necessary to inform the public, in depth, of the work in progress, and see that the Foundation's accomplishments—both direct and indirect-are properly credited.
Generally speaking, scientists do not like to do this kind of communicating, and I am sure that people in the Foundation who have a science background are loath to seek public exposure of their work; but I think they should.
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. The activities of science, particularly basic science, do not lend themselves to the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS). It is difficult to obtain a satisfactory measure of performance for such activities. Research is uncertain at best ; and even when research is accomplished successfully it is difficult to quantify its contribution in precise terms. For example, are two mathematical hypotheses proved more important than three mathematical hypotheses disproved? This sort of question doesn't have a sensible answer that can be useful in connection with PPBS.
I have a great interest in PPBS from a theoretical point of view. The theoretical work I have done over the past decade on the mathematical techniques of decision making leads me to believe that PPBS is adaptable to some activities, but extremely difficult to apply in others. Where there is a definite output that can be quantified, such as the number of letters sorted per day by a letter sorting system, or the number of photographs produced by a photographic laboratory-in other words, where a fairly regular output can be measured and evaluated-PPBS can be quite useful. Where the output is difficult to measure and evaluate, PPBS is less useful. For example, consider the application of the system to Congress, itself. Obviously, one cannot measure the work of Congress by counting the number of bills that have been passed. In other words, the PPB system cannot readily be applied to creative undertakings. The extreme example that comes to mind is the one in which a group of Chinese poets vowed to contribute to the national effort by increasing substantially the number of lines of poetry they would write in the coming year!
Question 3. Your testimony emphasized the need to formulate a clear-cut statement of Federal goals for science and technology. Whose responsibility should this be and what mechanism would you suggest?
Answer 3. The extremely important task of setting the scientific and technological goals of the nation must lie primarily with the Executive Branch of the Government. Proposals relating to these goals must first be carefully considered by the Office of Science and Technology and presented to the President.
However, I have long urged that these recommendations be formulated in close collaboration with the Congress. In fact, in my testimony before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular affairs on April 28, 1965, relating to the Office of Saline Water, I proposed that the Legislative Branch of Government have its own science and technology advisors. I feel that it is a weakness to have both the Executive and Legislative Branches rely on the same people for advice on scientific and technical factors, and their importance to the nation.
I believe it is necessary to hammer out scientific and technological goals for society through hearings before appropriate Congressional Committees, and through conferences between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government.
The value systems that should be applied to our national goals should reflect the value systems of the people at large, and both branches have a responsibility to make public goals consistent with private goals insofar as possible. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this work. In fact, there are theoretical studies vhich indicate that one cannot assess group goals by studying individual goals; that is, you cannot accurately predict how a group will behave by studying its individual members.
In summary, I see no substitute for the political process in establishing national goals. The responsibility cannot and must not be delegated to the scientific community; we must have a meaningful collaboration between the scientist and the non-scientist as we seek the optimum use of our scientific and technological resources.
Mr. DADDARIO. I just have one question and then I will send a series of others to you, if I might. You raised a point about managing research and the way it ought to be done. Isn't this in itself a management concept which this committee needs to look into! We have sometime ago examined national laboratories and were concerned about the tight control of the sponsoring agency in the development of its mission objective through that laboratory and the lack of flexibility which exists.
We were taken by the Bell report which states that the managers of some of these laboratories—and I put an emphasis on "some”-ought to have the flexibility, in funding to do other things in that laboratory than in the area of research beyond that which the sponsoring agency would allow it to do.
This in itself is a management concept, is it not?
Mr. DADDARIO. I think it is really what we are looking for. It is not a matter of putting complete controls over everything, but coming to determinations where we might release these controls. As Mr. Waggonner has pointed out, in yet other areas there is a necessity to put our house in better order.
Dr. TRIBUS. I don't know how you regard the need for multiple sources of funding so the man who doesn't hit it off with one agency has someplace else to turn. This was a point I skipped over in my testimony because I gathered from what you have said that it is something to which you have already given your attention.
But I regard it as very important, just out of my own personal experience. I have been involved in five or six activities, each one began by being unwelcome to some sponsor and finding support somewhere else. And I would hate to see this quality disappear from the Federal support of science.
Mr. DADDARIO. Well, Dr. Tribus, thank you ever so much. And we will be sending you some questions. Dr. TRIBUS. Thank
you. Mr. DADDARIO. I think the committee will proceed as far as we can. Mr. Ink and his
group may come forward. Our apologies to you, Mr. Ink. And it might be best if we could proceed and see if we can eliminate the need of having you come back at another time. If you would please introduce the men who are with you, and proceed with your statement directly, or summarize it, however you like.