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they had some experience with rayon, to many, many other things, giving them a great deal of flexibility, to the point where when the time came to shuffle out rayon, the laboratory just did not collapse as many of ours do, and which we keep going in many instances to simply keep them going, or to stuff things into them because they are not able to be kept going to 100-percent efficiency because of the sponsoring agency does not have a capability to keep them going efficiently.
Dr. HARRIS. Yes. Mr. DADDARIO. And if part of our problem is not in the way in which we administer, the lack of flexibility which we develop, and the lack of overall purpose which we inject into these laboratories.
Dr. HARRIS. Certainly the great in-house laboratories of Government are among our more important national scientific and engineering resources. I have had an opportunity in various capacities to be associated through advisory committee work with the National Bureau of Standards for some years. NBS is an example of a laboratory that derives a substantial amount of its total income from other agencies to perform work for those agencies. It is doing important work for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. We all know of the splendid work that Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been able to do in support of some of the major problems of the country, outside the atomic energy field. The central issue I would suppose is how budget support can be provided to permit the laboratories to carry on these extra functions. If you were to ask the agency that has primary cognizance of the laboratory to take on a new set of missions, this might raise fairly difficult questions. If you were to give the laboratories some opportunity to seek funds from other agencies to carry out programs, utilizing Government-furnished resources and staffs that have been built up to approach one program but have broad competence and flexibility, you might find this an appropriate way to arrange for their ultilization.
Mr. DADDARIO. We asked Mr. Ink when he was here, a week or so back, if he saw any problem in the Bureau of the Budget for any reason, accountability or otherwise, which would prevent a laboratory from having its manager have a certain percentage of its overhead to spend any way that he wanted. He said he didn't. This would eliminate the need for other agencies, really, to give them the money to do something on a flexible basis. It would allow for the flexibility and an allencompassing look, which may be what we need to have in some of these laboratories for their own good as well as for the country's good.
Dr. HARRIS. Certainly they can achieve some degree of flexibility with those in-house overhead funds that you have described. Yet, ultimately, if they are going to be linked to the missions of other agencies, they would have to be directly associated with programs. This would require a transfer of funds. After the laboratory demonstrates with its own funds that it could provide a service, the transfer-of-funds mechanism could link it to the ongoing program of the other agency.
Mr. DADDARIO. How would you as a man connected with a nonprofit research organization look to these developments in society? Would you see it as a threat, or would you see it as something which would enhance your possibilities as well as their's or ours?
Dr. HARRIS. As you know, the Battelle Memorial Institute is a responsive laboratory. It works on a contract basis for many agencies of Government, as well as for industry. There are many institutions that do similar kinds of things now—the universities, industry, and other not-for-profit institutions. I would have no concern about changing the role of some of the in-house laboratories so that they also participated in some of the broader programs. Indeed, I would expect this to be a desirable thing to do, to insure that the laboratories maintained their capability to deal with the real problems of today and were not too narrowly looking on the problems of the past.
Mr. Winn. Would the gentleman yield on that point?
Dr. HARRIS. Your chairman has suggested that in order to develop and demonstrate a capability these laboratories would have to have some flexibility so as to give their staff the chance to work on problems of a critical nature to transportation or housing or some mission outside the one traditionally assigned their laboratory. My own estimate would be, as I have said earlier, that they might have a modest overhead allowance available to develop and demonstrate capability in other fields. The in-house laboratories would then bring their capabilities to the attention of the people who had mission-oriented functions in these other fields. The mission-oriented agencies would be in position to transfer funds to the Government laboratories to the extent appropriate. To some extent this pattern is now followed in dealing with the National Bureau of Standards. It allows the Bureau to be an effective part of many programs and makes it unnecessary to create a duplicative in-house capability. This pattern is similar to that utilized in the contract programs of many agencies in which contracts are negotiated with universities, not-for-profit institutions, or industry for specific services required by the agencies.
Mr. WINN. Thank you.
Mr. DADDARIO. Well, an important part of this would be to determine whether or not this capability exists. I believe that it does, because of the investigations which this committee has made. In many of these great laboratories, there exists a burning desire as well as a capability to participate.
Dr. HARRIS. Yes.
Mr. DADDARIO. There is a depressing effect which occurs because this ability is not allowed.
I would guess the reason an organization such as yours, Dr. Harris, has the kind of capability it has is because you do give people an opportunity, simply because of the nature of the relationship you have to society.
Dr. HARRIS. This is absolutely correct. This is the thesis on which all of the not-for-profit contract research institutions are built, to create an institution supported to a modest extent with in-house funds to build its capability, and then to allow the people to pursue areas of interest to them in which they can find an appropriate contract funding. Some of the frustration arises because, as you see from the data we have presented to you, the budgets are small in many of the fields which all of us agree are of great national importance
but, which at the present moment, and for historical reasons, have only a small allocation of their total budget assigned to research and development. Until larger R. & D. budgets are available, the R. & D. community cannot be very active in these fields.
Mr. DADDARIO. This committee is not playing a chess game, trying to figure out how we can move things from one place to another, but looking also into the way in which things are being done so that we can come to some judgment and make recommendations as to how more can be accomplished. If there are depressing influences, and if more flexibility could allow more to be done, this would certainly be a conclusion well within the objectives and desires of the committee.
Dr. HARRIS. We have certainly seen that the defense program has prospered in part as a result of its ability to draw on in-house laboratories, universities, industry, et cetera. I think the same range of potential exists in some of the new programs.
Mr. DADDARIO. Now, as you mentioned the Defense Department, you recall another question I would like to ask. Since it does have objectives and because it does have in a program such as Themis, which is aimed at developing additional institutional capabilities from an academic point of view throughout the country, is this from an organizational point of view a wise thing for the country to do?
Dr. Harris. I think at the time these programs were identified and conceived, it was not unreasonable for the Defense Department to subsume within its function a recognition of the importance of assuring a manpower supply and also of assuring a linkage with the university community.
I came into government, Mr. Chairman, in June 1941, when I was called to active duty in the Navy Department. Prior to that time there had been very modest contact between the Defense Department and the university community for obvious reasons. There was very little funding for R. & D. during the 1930's. It took us much of the war to build up a good rapport between the university, community, and defense needs. That rapport has been very important, I believe, in the following several decades.
During that period of time, I think that, the Department of Defense very logically recognized that its objective to achieve greater national security required strong universities and a good relationship between DOD and the academic community. Obviously the intellectual rebellion against this relationship as well as the growth of many new national programs identifying education as an important function which Government as a whole is concerned with, create a new basis on which to reexamine those decisions of the past and a chance to move to a different arrangement for support of the universities.
Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Harris, I have the hope that we might forward some additional questions to you. We have come to the end of our time, and you have been extremely helpful.
(Questions submitted by the subcommittee to Dr. William J. Harris, Jr. :)
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 have always been a strong supporter of the National Science Foundation. There are several steps that NSF could take to improve its image and extend its constituency. These steps could lead to increased ability on the part of NSF to secure funds necessary for continued national preeminence in science.
(1) Since much of basic science is deeply interrelated with the educational process, I believe the National Soience Foundation could emphasize this relationship between science and education. The pursuit of basic research is not in itself a reasonable national goal. The securing of new knowledge via basic research is necessary to advance the ability of succeeding academic generations to cope more vigorously with real world problems. Hence, it is this link between the kinds of problems of concern to society that require additional knowledge for their resolution, and the techniques appropriate to pursue such problems, that holds more promise for generating public support than the defense of unfettered free research dictated solely by the interest of the individual scientist. I think if NSF spent more time talking about what new knowledge gained through research has meant to the education of both graduate and undergraduate students, it would talk in terms that are more understandable and more responsive to the current interest in and concern for educational achievement.
(2) In addition to its primary role in basic research, which contributes so much to the education of our young people, the National Science Foundation has recently been given authority to fund applied research related to problem areas of national importance. Its role in support of the social sciences has also been made explicit, and the interaction of these two recent legislative changes could, if vigorously pursued, greatly increase public interest in and support of the National Science Foundation. It seems to me that the National Science Foundation could emerge as a central governmental resource supporting many program areas of national importance. Through cooperation with other agencies it could generate new programs utilizing its traditional relationships with the research community. In time, some of these functions and the new research constituency associated with the programmatic areas could be transferred to operating agencies. It would create for the National Science Foundation, a degree of involvement in the great issues of our time, which it does not now enjoy. With a concern for the acquisition of new knowledge and its crucial role in the educational process, cited in point 1, and a deep concern with the application of knowledge to solve real problems (but in a lead agency role), I believe the National Science Foundation could gain substantial recognition for itself and win much more support than it now has.
(3) Finally, I believe that a much stronger program to help the public recognize what science means to the United States would provide the National Science Foundation with a very important role not now being filled. It seems to me that the contributions of science and technology to the American economy and to American society are very poorly understood. The National Science Foundation has sponsored a small number of studies in the past about the way in which knowledge is transferred and about its implications. The National Science Foundation, through its collection of basic data on manpower and expenditures, provides an important continuing service. If it could extend this interest and concern with science to continuing case studies of the substance of science and its contributions, and convey such information to the public by the development of education courses and the development of lecture series for public groups, it would bring favorable attention to the importance of science and to the role of the National Science Foundation in contributing to the strength of our scientific enterprise.
Question 2. In recent years there has been considerable discussion of the need for an annual report on science and technology. You too have made this recommendation. What do you think such a report should contain? Should it be a review of the immediate past or a blueprint for the future, or both?
Answer 2. An annual report on science and technology could be a major contribution toward public awareness and understanding. Such a report need not be a completely comprehensive account of all that has happened in science and technology during a given year. It should both review the immediate past and discuss future plans and possibilities. It should discuss the contributions of Federal R&D efforts to national goals and objectives by addressing subjects such as the following:
(1) Available statistical data drawn from the National Science Foundation and the Federal Budget, organized in a functional rather than an administrative way, as discussed in our statement;
(2) Major Government science actions and concerns of the immediate past; (3) Recommendations from advisory reports and other sources that have been selected for implementation, and discussion of plans for their accomplishment;
(4) Relationships between operating programs and R&D programs in terms of the functions to which they contribute;
(5) Current issues in science and technology policy, e.g., scientific and technical manpower, potential contributions to the solution of social problems, technology assessment, environmental quality, future marine science and technology programs;
(6) Major developments in certain disciplinary or inter-disciplinary fields of science and technology.
Under present Government structure, it would appear that responsibility for issuing such a report should be assigned to the Office of Science and Technology (OST). Through the Federal Council for Science and Technology, OST can draw easily on the vast resources of Government for inputs to the report. The President's Science Advisory Committee affords OST immediate access to the academic and industrial scientific and engineering community. Other important sources of information for such a report obviously would be the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Science and of Engineering.
Question 3. We are interested in the independent not-for-profit contract research institutes as valuable private sector institutions along with universities and industry.
They do not now get much support from NSF because they are not connected with education. Should this be changed ?
Are these institutes fearful of competition from in-house labs if a policy of fleribility and redeployment is implemented! Especially in a time of tight budgets?
To what extent are these institutes adding capabilities for science policy research? Are contract funds available? Which agencies!
Answer 3. The first part of Question 3 asks whether the National Science Foundation support for not-for-profit contract research institutes ought to be encouraged despite the lack of deep involvement in education on the part of many of these institutes. If the National Science Foundation objectives are directed to ward the acquisition of knowledge and also to insuring an effective relationship between the acquisition of knowledge and education, it is quite clear that much of the NSF support must continue to go to academic institutions. However, independent not-for-profit institutions should be given a reasonable opportunity to participate in the acquisition of new knowledge. The independent not-for-profit institutions relate new knowledge to its application. Since the NSF is now also con. cerned with applied research, it can logically support institutions that acquire new knowledge with a significant objective of insuring its application. Therefore, it seems to me that the National Science Foundation regulations ought to be adapted so as to encourage an appropriate level of NSF support of non-educational institutions as a part of programs seeking the acquisition of new knowledge as well as the application of such knowledge.
The second part of the question has to do with possible competition from inhouse laboratories with respect to the independent not-for-profit contract institutes. I have worked in Government laboratories, and I have great respect for and am a continuing supporter of the importance of maintaining strong in-house competence in Government in research and development. In times of tight budgets, It would seem inappropriate to attempt any major expansion of Government inhouse research capabilities at the expense of the entire private sector. However, the Government always ought to seek to maximize the effectiveness of utilization of its investments in research facilities and in research manpower.
Some think any competition is unfair. It is my view that competition, especially competition in ideas in the research sense, is generally a positive influence. My only concern is that such competition be open and not provide exclusive or substantial advantage to any particular group or institution other than that earned by quality and efficiency of ideas and performance. If Government laboratory programs in support of new problem areas are given the same critical review as contractor programs, they would not constitute unfair competition. On the other hand, if funds were allocated to Government laboratories to carry on programs