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did so essentially with the added understanding that sometime in the future the free research would pay off exponentially in terms of national security and welfare. J. Robert Oppenheimer put in an appearance at the first appropriation hearing for the National Science Foundation not as a physicist nor as a troubled seer but as a military expert.
The true meaning of basic research in the interrelated system was thus not its lack of connection with the military goals but the Government's respect for and need for the scientific community as generators of scientific choice in the university setting. The motto of the National Science Foundation in its early years might well have been: Not the Government nor the NSF but the scientists themselves make science policy.
The dogma of basic research served well as a national science policy for many years and would perhaps have continued to do so if the cold war had never happened to impose external criteria on the military component of the system. Basic research and science-originated priorities failed to answer the imperatives of practical problems. Both the peril and the hope of nuclear energy lay essentially with those scientists, members in good standing of the scientific community, who lived, moved, and had their being in the national laboratories and installations of the AEC. Basic research as a national policy also had no place for those German enthusiasts for rocketry whom the military brought to the United States after the war. These newcomers did not fit the stereotype of the prewar refugee scientist; indeed they represented the reverse side of the coin of scientific choice which the allied leaders had made for the atom and against the rocket at the beginning of the war. They also had as their scientific goal the elaboration of the Newtonian system by spacecraft propelled by nonnuclear fuel. To many physicists space exploration seemed a falling off from "real science.”
The external criteria of the 1950's called for the H-bomb and an intercontinental ballistic missile. The choices of the Soviets played a reciprocal role in the American choices, so that by the end of the 1950's the commitment to an H-bomb arsenal, a missile delivery system, and the penetration of space were settled national goals. Whether the choices were “correct” in an absolute sense or not is impossible to determine. Yet the serious differences of opinion within the scientific community and also within the military component of the interrelated system almost never had as their issue the validity of the system itself. The scientific community, whatever misgivings it might have had about some choices made about weapons had its attention more than occupied in solidifying and making permanent the basic research component of the system. Not only the coming of age of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health signalized the decade, but in each of the armed services little NSF's devoted to basic research maintained themselves and gave investigators in the universities a wide variety of choice.
For the 1960's the subtle balance between basic research and the military involved recognition of the scientific community's commitment to the national security goal of the Government. The threat to encrap the universities into shortrun military missions, however, was to be kept in check not by an established ceiling on the military compo
nent, but by using its response to the missile age as a lever for increased basic research. Far from being helpless and pure, basic research became a beneficiary of a surge in support for science which has few parallels. This surge to opulence indicates that the appeal for support for science in the early 1960's was the most successful in our history. Again, however, the fundamental elements of the system were so obscure that they could be explained neither to the scientists nor to the American people. Indeed too clear a statement of the workings of the system made the leaders of the scientific community and politicians alike uncomfortable.
The delicate balance between the military component and basic research, might have continued to produce increasing support for science and technology in an exponentially increasing scale throughout the 1960's. Most criticisms of the system in the mid-sixties were rather superficial. Although Congress was occasionally restive, many individual members were actually part of the system through their committee service. Although small universities griped, they really wished to become big universities. Although several science administrators and many scientists had doubts about manned space explorations, they shrugged and allowed the choice of a manned landing on the moon to be made without a fight if not without a whimper. Indeed the scientific community could not maintain the balance of the system and at the same time make a serious and public attack on any part of it.
Then a series of shocks rocked the system. The disturbers were essentially four: First, the rise of the existentialist university and those affected by the whole outlook of the New Left. They did not care to understand the balances and compromises of the system and made no bones about attacking the military-industrial component with tactics that were deliberately designed, not to affect a particular choice, but to destroy the system of making choices. The extent to which this movement was a part of a revolt against society in general and American society in particular is a secondary matter here. The primary point is that the new style revolution is (1) aimed at the organizational and communications networks rather than at economic control, and (2) is not even designed to win completely. Thus it can support an idealized version of research tightly controlled for short-run social and political ends determined by charismatic processes within dissident movements and at the same time hope to enjoy the level of support for basic research to which the old system led them to become accustomed.
The second disturbing factor has been the beginnings of realization of one of the oldest dreams of science an international community. This result came about, however, not because nationalism fell away from the support system we have just described. Rather the American national system has become (1) worldwide in its operation. The great scientific agencies of the Government have foreign policies and state departments of their own. (2) The American support system is so uniquely large that the level of research on the whole globe is determined essentially by American national scientific choice, with a consequent demand from the rest of the world to have a voice in it. (3) The cost of the results of scientific and technological choice are transcending even American resources in that some projects can
only come into being with the collaboration of several nations. The logic of this drive applies as much to the Soviets and the Americans as it does to the Western Europeans.
The third disturbing factor in the system has been a violent perturbation in the area of the social science choice. In the 1940's the social sciences could not absorb large sums of money and could not produce large results. Hence the leaders of the scientific community could pass over the problem silently, and the social scientists had enough sense not to demand support beyond their power of delivery. In the 1960's the scientific horizons of the social sciences expanded considerably, not necessarily in step, however, with the explosive demands made under the heading of external criteria. The Federal Government has inadequate mechanism and inadequate concepts, as do the universities, for creating a balanced decision flow here.
The fourth disturbing factor is the complete confusion in which the discussion of the place of the military in American life has sunk. Vietnam has revived images which make warfare appear as it did before World War I, an area not compatible with the high tradition of science. Yet the necessity of maintaining a world balance of nuclear power still remains. The only access to the problems, much less to the answers, lies through a massive research effort maintained permanently at a high level both of quantity of support and of intellectual distinction. The metaphor of battle no longer signifies adequately the institutions associated with war. The word military has come to refer not only to a system of force but also to systems of information and education. It describes a set of social institutions whose structure is parallel to that of the society from whence they emerge. As such, the military dimension remains a challenge to the whole scientific community at the very farthest stretch of its capability. To propose that research funds be withdrawn from the military and transferred over in a straight-line fashion to pressing social problems is to misunderstand both the scope of military research and the nature of science. Precisely here is where the old arguments about the scientists making science policy come alive again to foil those who consider massive and simplistic action based on emotion-laden choices as the proper way to confront current national decisions about science.
Hence on the Government side of the partnership the problem is not to make a paper reorganization, to create a Department of Science, or to disturb the functioning of the science advisory complex within the White House, and the Executive Office of the President. It is rather to provide a comprehensive rationale by which the Government can continue to support free science both in the universities and wherever it can find an institutional home. The comprehensive National Research Foundation recommended by the Bush report in 1945 might conceivably have done this. The National Science Foundation created in 1950 had little chance of comprehensiveness and has consistently and prudently chosen not to try to do more than carry out the policy of the scientific community and especially the university scientists.
To accomplish the necessary function of providing coherence for science policy without centralizing all scientific activity in the Government, a new arrangement must improve on the position of the National Science Foundation in the following respects:
(1) It must emphasize the chain of connections, and not the disconnections, between long-range basic research and applied science generally, both in the interest of national security and of the alleviation of the social and medical problems which beset mankind. The National Institutes of Health have a more fortunate tradition of respecting basic research, applied research and their connections than does the National Science Foundation. Therefore, it has on this count earned the prototype position for a National Institute of Research and Advanced Studies.
(2) The new arrangement must take account of the humanities and social sciences as well as the physical and biological sciences. The fields conventionally outside the definition of science must be included, and must partake of the same rationale as makes Government support of any kind of science possible. The humanities and certain parts of the social sciences cannot effectively justify themselves by an argument of indirect practicality, and certain other parts of the social sciences cannot by any definition be separated from applications. Therefore the Government must come to see strong and effective intellectual activity regardless of field as a national necessity and a bulwark for free universities. The NIRAS model certainly recognizes this dimension.
(3) The new arrangement must recognize the connection of research and education in all fields more effectively than any present agency, It is all too possible to conceive of a divorce between research and university education, with high level scholarship retreating into protected research institutes and higher education becoming a kind of indoctrination into a permissive and disorganized life for the students. Britain in the 19th century had most of its scholarship outside the universities, but the investment and talent now on American campuses makes the prospect of such a divorce the specter of a national disaster.
(4) The new arrangement must not be utterly dependent on the univerities for the performance of research. Without abandoning university research, the Government must be able to shift activities out of the university orbit when they can be better done elsewhere. For instance, the in-house capability of the National Institutes of Health and the historic strength of the Government's bureaus devoted to environmental studies should be available as options to NIRAS for some lines of research. The creation of NIRAS—someone might help me with a word to call this thing. How are you pronouncing it around the committee?
Mr. DADDARIO. We haven't reached that point.
Dr. DUPREE (continuing). Would make possible the use of some inhouse research and many of the resources of the national laboratories without changing the NSF from a grantmaking agency:
The NIRAS model has more features to commend it and fewer serious flaws than any scheme of centralization put forward in recent years. Some questions remain with answers unclear, for instance how large fragments of the AEC would be digested while NASA remained intact on the outside. Yet these important questions can be ironed out. The crucial ingredient would be the policy planning capability available to the administrator. To develop it would not be easy. To fail to develop it would leave NIRAS a paper organization. The
position of the administrator would be somewhat analogous to that of the Secretary of Defense, who has had to develop a policy capability independent of his component departments.
While widespread changes in the interralated system are clearly going on at present, and we shall undoubtedly see fundamental changes both of institutions and procedure, some instruction may be had from the nonrevolutionary origin of the Government-science partnership. It was adapted to American democracy as it grew up, and if it remains adapted to American democracy in the large as it changes, the resulting system can be respectful of scientific community and its values at the same time it moves to respond to the needs of society. Internal criteria for choice can be applied by scientists who are in a position to judge their own problems and opportunities, but the best source for external critera for scientific choice still remains the democratic institutions of American society.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
An excellent and provocative statement. Gentlemen, I had determined before you all got here that we would listen to all the testimony before getting to the questions. We will therefore proceed with Dr. Reagan, and followed by Mr. Price.
Dr. REAGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I may, I will submit the statement for the record and summarize and paraphrase it at this time.
(Prepared statement of Dr. Michael D. Reagan is as follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL D. REAGAN
I appreciate, Mr. Chairman, the opportunity to participate in these significant hearings on the vital question of centralization of Federal science activities. These activities, and organizations for dealing with them, have grown with extreme rapidity in recent years, but in piece-meal fashion. It is clearly time to take another look at the overall structure, to consider whether some consolidation and rationalization may not be possible, especially now that the R&D budget has (at least temporarily) leveled off and the priority problems are becoming more severe.
First, let me compliment Mr. Richard A. Carpenter and his associates in the Science Policy Research Division for their fine background paper. Because that document lays out the existing range of arguments pro and con centralization in such complete fashion, I will not dwell on general themes, but will immediately sketch my particular ideas regarding the need for and appropriate organizational form of, a Department of Research and Higher Education. This is not to make a claim that my proposal is the answer, but only that I hope it will serve to provoke further thought and discussion.
The proper basis for a department of science, it seems to me, does not lie in the arguments used in the late 1950s—to achieve overall science policy coordination. Despite the interesting argument of Herbert Roback (Science, 4 July 1969), I would contend that that job can only be done at the presidential level. OST's functions cannot be transferred to a department. Government-wide agreement on the premises of policy in any given area is almost a will-o'-the-wisp in any case, but to the extent that it can be achieved at all, it is only through the imposition of presidential-level persuasion, not by the usanctioned pleas of one department on the same level as the others it is attempting to coordinate.
Rather, the clearest case for centralization at the present time lies in the partial area of basic research and agency linkages with higher education institutions. Here there are a definable scope and an implicit unity of function and purpose that can provide the prerequisite common premises.
Let me recite some of the reasons why a Department of Research and Higher Education makes sense as a partial consolidation.