« PreviousContinue »
STATEMENT OF DWIGHT INK, DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET; ACCOMPANIED BY JACK YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF ECONOMICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY DIVI. SION, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET; HUGH LOWETH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (GENERAL SCIENCE), ECONOMICS; AND CLIFFORD BERG, MANAGEMENT ANALYST
Mr. Ink. Yes, sir; with me at the table Mr. Jack Young, who is the Director of the Economics, Science, and Technology Division in the Bureau of the Budget, which is concerned with the major part of the scientific part of the budget, Clifford L. Berg, management analyst, Office of Executive Management, and Hugh F. Loweth, Assistant Director (General Science), Economics, Science, and Technology Division.
Mr. Chairman, in view of the hour, if you would prefer, I would be happy to just touch on several of the key points and make ourselves available for questions.
Mr. DADDARIO. That will be fine, and without objection your whole statement will be put in the record and you will have an opportunity to review it and correct the record.
(Mr. Dwight Ink's prepared statement follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. DWIGHT INK
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the issues raised in the report recently released entitled "Centralization of Federal Science Activities." In a matter as complex as the organization of the Federal Government for the support and conduct of research, development and graduate education, involving as it does numerous questions concerning general organization of the Federal Government, “overview hearings” like these serve a very useful purpose in helping to clarify the underlying issues.
Typically in government, new programs are initiated in response to a particular need of a particular time, and seldom in relation to some general organizational scheme. Over an extended period, however, the cumulative effect of numerous earlier decisions forces major reorganization because old needs have been met, new needs require attention, and administrative mechanisms must be realigned to serve new or modified objectives.
This Administration, as you know, is concerned with improving the organization of the Federal Government in order that the public receive the maximum benefit possible from Federally administered programs. In April, the President announced the creation of the Advisory Council on Executive Organization. The mandate of the Council, as set forth by the President in his announcement, was to consider:
“(1) the Organization of the executive branch as a whole in light of today's changing requirements of government; (2) solutions to organizational problems which arise from among the 150-plus departments, offices, agencies, and other separate executive organizational units; and (3) the organizational relationships of the Federal Government to States and cities in carrying out the many domestic programs in which the Federal Govern
ment is involved." In specific reference to the organization of Federal science activities, the President's Advisory Council has been asked to review the proposal made by the Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources that a new Federal agency be created—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency-in the context of broader Federal organizational requirements. The hearings by this Committee should be of great interest to the Advisory Council, as well as to the Congress and the public, as it addresses matters related to Federal science organization.
Now, let me make some general comments on some of the issues raised by the report. First, organizational change is not an end in itself, but a means to improve the achievement of particular program objectives. All proposals for organizational change, consequently, must confront the question "Organization for what?” This, I infer from your preface to the report, Mr. Chairman, is one reason for your expressed interest in a "further elucidation of the issues." In this regard, let me compliment you on the effort to focus on underlying issues and problems, and not simply on reorganization itself.
In matters pertaining to organizational change, it is, obviously, seldom, if ever, the case that any given organizational pattern is ideal. There is, moreover, a widesperad recognition that the management of resources and people is usually the major determinant of success, regardless of organizational pattern.
Finally, I would like to add the caveat that the creation of large government organizations often tends to reduce flexibility in program management and can tend to stifle creative science. Organizational layering, administrative complexity, and a new order of complication in decision-making, all seem to be frequent by-products of large organizations.
The report describes the present pattern of Federal science organization as "diffuse," since it consists of a number of organizations serving a variety of purposes. These various purposes, by and large, include (a) a common concern among agencies with the support of university research and related graduate education as well as (b) unique concerns within agencies which link research and development efforts to their statutory missions. While we do not pretend to understand all the implications of centralization represented by the National Institutes of Research and Advanced Studies prototype organization, we believe that consolidations of this nature will have to trade-off some expected gain in efficiency in pursuit of common objectives against some expected loss in pursuit of unique objectives. There are also administrative problems of a large agency I mentoned earlier.
Second, there are a number of important issues raised by the report which, in our judgment, are not especially amenable to solution through organizational change. For instance, the report reflects considerable concern with the adequacy of ing for academic science, particularly by the National Science Foundation. But there is no guarantee that executive branch reorganization would greatly change the tendency of the Congress to appropriate less funds for the NSF than the President's annual budget request.
Third, changes in Federal science organization are not apt to change the underlying problems of establishing priorities in the short run. At the level of establishing national priorities, for example, the Federal budget-which often constitutes the best statement of priorities available-will always reflect the constraints imposed by the general state of the economy, and will always involve a great deal of give and take among the agencies, the White House and the Executive Office, the authorization committees, the appropriations sub-committees, and the general public.
We are seeking to improve the decision-making processes of the Executive branch through the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques in the Federal Government. But this is more of a change in process than an organizational change, even though it may raise organizational considerations. We are concerned about the priority for research, but necessarily must view research in relation to other national priorities. Specifically, though, in relation to the priorities within Federal research and development, the Bureau asked the Office of Science and Technology early this summer to review these priorities in preparation for the Fiscal 1971 budget, and this review is now underway.
With respect to establishing priorities within research, questions continue to arise regarding the allocation of resources among fields of research, among the various programs for supporting research and graduate education, and among the various types of institutional performers. These questions continue to arise because of some vexing characteristics of public programs in science. These problems include: (1) the same program often serves several objectives, and it is not easy, under present arrangements to identify most programs with a single, explicit objective; (2) it is difficult to measure the benefit of any given research program; and (3) experts in any given area tend to be partisans for that area,
but often are unwilling to sit in judgment on other areas, thus complicating the weighing of priorities. In all likelihood, the existing means of setting priorities will continue to be employed for some time. But, clearly, we must and will continue to seek improvement.
There are several more specific issues, however, raised by the report on which I would like to comment briefly. First, there is widsepread and increasing concern with insuring that the research which is supported be relevant to the problems of society. This is a rather general concern encompassing such diverse aspects of the problem as the rapid exploitation of new and promising fields of science, the support of cross-cutting interdisciplinary research efforts, and the generalized concern with the application of R&D to social purposes.
Often in the past, many have spoken primarily of the output of science as an input to technology. Actually, as most of us know, the facts are much more complicated. There might be said to be three streams of activity, having a variety of interactions within and among themselves, about which we must be concerned: (1) the scientific body of knowledge, (2) the technological state of the art, and (3) the practical utilization of science and technology. The complex interactions among these streams of activity do not correspond to the simple popular notion that science always leads directly to technology and technology to utilization. The interactions vary, and they may well be “weak interactions” rather than “strong interactions." We are only now beginning to understand their complexity. All of which is to say that our knowledge of how to apply research and development to some of the problems of society is rather limited.
A general conclusion which we draw that bears upon the question of the or. ganization of Federal agencies for science, is this: the interactions among science, technology, and utilization are enhanced when the agency with primary responsibility for utilization of the results of R&D has direct responsibility for the support of such R&D. Let me restate the point: mission research should generally not be separated from mission agencies if R&D programs are to contribute effectively to the fulfillment of the given mission. This has been the experience with the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Atomic Energy Commission in the recent past, and we expect it to be the case with regard to the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Justice in the near future.
Now I would like to turn to the question of utilization of Federal laboratories. Your subcommittee has already studied this problem in some detail and recognizes it complexities. In general, there are several approaches that have been suggested for achieving better utilization of the resource now associated with our Federal laboratories. Let me mention two alternatives, but emphasize that there are other approaches that also merit consideration.
One approach is to broaden the charter of existing multi-discipline laboratories, both in-house and contractor-operated laboratories, and provide laboratory management with funds that can be used to pursue activities in a variety of areas of high national priority. In this way, the activities and resources of existing organizations could be redirected form time to time to newer and higher priority missions.
Another approach is to reduce the Federal resources being devoted to the support of existing laboratories that are working in areas of lower priority, and create new institutional arrangements for new problems. Agencies responsible for higher priority problem areas, of course, would have to be provided with funds to attract the people, build the teams and the institutional arrangements that are appropriate for addressing the new problems. The establishment of new laboratories could be facilitated by the release of funds from laboratories closed or curtailed, and by the pool of skilled personnel thereby made available.
Obviously, there are merits and drawbacks associated with both approaches and neither will work in all situations. The first approach, for example, may gain some advantage from being able to use an existing organization to the extent that there are elements of that structure that otherwise would have to be duplicated in a new organization. It also avoids the problems and expenses of sudden curtailment or termination of activities and the cost of establishing new institutions. On the other hand, characteristics of the personnel in an
existing laboratory—the way they are organized and managed, their approach to problems, their ties to older, now lower priority, problem areas—may work against their ability to cope effectively with new problems. While the human resources of the organization are undoubtedly most important, it should also be noted that the facilities and equipment that are appropriate for the old problems may not be appropriate for the new problem. There are some cases where an existing laboratory organization has broadened the scope of its activities and worked effectively on new problems. AEC's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as you know, now has approximately 15% of its funding coming from sources other than Atomic Energy Commission programs. Cases such as this, however, are few in number, and due in part to the individuals and specific circumstances involved, rather than conclusive demonstrations that this experience can be broadened into a general approach, although I am personally more favorable toward this approach than some.
The second approach, that of shifting the Federal funds to the laboratories with the higher priority problems, can be criticized on the grounds that the Federal Government is not taking maximum advantage of its investment in an existing facility and organization, or that the process of creating new organizational arrangements and research and development teams for the new problems is inefficient. Further, it is generally recognized that it is extremely difficult to identify promptly those organizations where efforts should be reduced, to overcome the inertia connected with funding that effort, and actually to reduce the size of or terminate a laboratory operation. Nevertheless, it is not clear that reshaping existing teams and organizations to address new problems is more efficient or less difficult.
I believe that we recognize the importance of assembling the right mix of human resources needed for a particular problem area, adopting an approach to the solution of the problem that is appropriate, and creating the organization framework that is needed for an effective attack. Whether this can be done most effectively by reshaping existing laboratories is a question that I think requires additional discussion, and perhaps can best be decided on a case by case basis.
I should like to direct some comments to the matter of Federal support of the social sciences and the organizational implications of such support. It is obvious that the nation is faced with growing problems requiring decisions and actions based on sound social, political and economic data and on better knowledge about human attitudes and behavior. This has naturally led many to the belief that more research in the social sciences is needed, and sometimes to the further conclusion that a separate organization for general support of the social sciences is the best way to promote expansion of this field. Let me add, however, that much research on social problems is needed which goes well beyond the social sciences. I think, for example, of the engineering research related to housing. This indicates the need for a greater cooperative effort among social scientists and natural scientists working on social problems.
On the other hand, there are those who view the present Federal support of the social sciences—let alone any expansion—with suspicion. The seeming lack of relevance of many Federally-financed research projects and the sensitivity and controversial nature of the subjects dealt with make the social sciences an obvious target of attack. This suggests that a separate organization for the social sciences would be highly vulnerable to programmatic and budgetary constraints.
When the pros and cons of a separate organization for the support of the social sciences are weighed—together with the general reluctance to proliferate Executive Branch organization-the Bureau continues to conclude that the need or desirability of a separate organization has not been persuasively established as yet.
More and more mission agencies are exhibiting an interest in the support of social science. Regardless of whether a separate organization is later found to be desirable, agencies with important social goals should be encouraged to utilize social science more effectively in support of those goals.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we have referred today to some of the issues which we feel are of underlying importance in this discussion of changes in Federal science organization. We appreciate the opportunity to raise these
matters with you today and wish to express the hope that these overview hearings will contribute substantially to an increased understanding of these problems. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee.
Mr. Ink. I would appreciate that, because as I have listened to the testimony, I have been making some changes. Very candidly, I think I could write the testimony better now than before I heard the earlier part of the hearing.
First of all, I share the view that putting forth these kinds of issues and these kinds of prototypes in advance of a position on the part of the committee, I think, is very useful in terms of stimulating discussion. And I have found the report very useful.
As you know, this administration is also concerned with improving organization in the Federal Government, and the President in April did announce the creation of the Advisory Council on Executive Organization, which is concerned with broad questions of organization in the executive branch.
Mr. MOSHER. Mr. Chairman, is that the so-called Ash committee?
Mr. Ink. Yes, sir; that's correct. And I mention it not only because of the breadth of its concern, but also because this council has been asked, for example to review several areas in the field of science, including the proposal made by the Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources, that there be a new Federal agency created, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. It was desired that this be looked at in the context of broad organizational requirements.
And I would, Mr. Chairman, mention again, none of these points are new to the committee, but several I would like to mention anyway. I am not a scientist, but I spent some 15 years in this kind of field, so the problems of science are of great importance to me personally. It is difficult to resolve some of these issues without looking at other organizational problems. For example, in the Department of Commerce, what disposition, if any, might be made of ESSA clearly has to be looked at not only in terms of ESSA but also in terms of the broad context of the Commerce Department.
Mr. MOSHER. Mr. Chairman, could I interrupt you again?
Mr. MOSHER. Before you move away from the Ash Council or committee, whatever you call that, just tell me briefly, does it have an independent and adequate budget, and does it have the funds and authority to staff itself adequately? I can't see that the Ash commission is going to come up soon with adequate answers to the problems posed to it unless it is very excellently staffed. Can you tell me whether it is?
Mr. INK. It does have funds and it does have—it is developing some staff of its own—not a large staff. I think their staff will be roughly comparable to that portion of the Bureau of the Budget in the field of organization. But the exact numbers haven't been decided.
Mr. Mosher. They are in the process of staffing it!
Mr. MOSHER. Where do these funds come from? You say it has been funded. Where does the money come from?
Mr. YOUNG. It is coming from Presidential funds and I recall that some of the people's time is being volunteered.