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facilitate or retard the further development of science, the rational deployment of scientific resources, and the development of a broader public understanding of the role science can play in the complexities of modern society.
But the problems of organization are complex. This is clearly manifest in the differing views on organization which have been presented to this committee. These reflect differing assessments of the requirements for an adequate science organization and reflect its importance to a series of "publics"
that of the working scientist;
that of the institutions which house and lend him institutional support;
that of the technologist concerned with the application of science;
that of the program director of a Federal agency; and
and that of society at large in its perceptions of the benefits to be derived from science. The full exploration of any one of these views would require no less than monographic treatment and there would still remain the need for synthesis of a “best fit solution.” Consequently, I believe the committee's purposes will be best suited if I can limit my presentation to a series of positive statements in the form of propositions, and some generalizations that seem pertinent to a consideration of the several organization forms which have been proposed. First, to state the three propositions.
The most important strengths of U.S. science are its broad scope and general excellence, and these are due in no small measure to a support system characterized by pluralism, the bulk of research support being derived from agencies with definable missions.
The most important weakness of U.S. science is derived from the progressive decoupling that has occurred between research and education. Such decoupling results in part from the mechanisms utilized in support of academic research, but more importantly from the lack of sufficient direct concern for the health and vigor of our institutions of higher education.
A second important weakness results from the progressive disenchantment of society with science, there being too little general understanding of the relation of much of the Nation's substantial
research undertakings and their ultimate social purposes. These three propositions are amendable to detailed justification but as generalizations they can be derived from a presentation given before the American Association for the Advancement of Science last December. This was published in Science last February and is appended to this statement.
The biomedical sciences were used in the AAAS presentation as an example of a program of research, the support of which is dominated by mission-oriented agencies. It is clearly apparent from that discussion and a consideration of the development of other fields that the flowering of science in the United States during the past decade or so was due to the intelligent pursuit of a number of broad but specified missions funded in amounts that permitted the growth of science without severe fiscal constraints. The soundness of the programs that evolved reflected in large measure the free operations of the internal logic of science. The view expressed in the presentation was that having come this far, there is much further to go in many areas, and further
progress would be greatly facilitated if much of the good of our present support system can be retained and some specific types of medical action undertaken. Such remedial action was discussed under four headings:
The need for a broader measure of institutional support, particularly for the broadly defined educational missions of institutions;
The belief that having secured institutional stability, then the consequent freeing up of mission-oriented agencies would permit them to address themselves to their mission more productively;
The essential need for a more adequate information system that could provide “analyses and arrays of information specifically relevant to broad sets of problems from an overall point of view.” I might add: To satisfy this need it was proposed that a limited number of cognizant agencies be designated presumably by executive order.
The need for some central mechanism high in the executive branch which would utilize such organized information collated so as to permit the definition of broad national goals and make "the critical policy and allocation decisions that would influence program development in science and education and in the use
of science for other social purposes." It was not envisaged that such a central structure would have operational responsibility for any portion of the program it reviewed and upon which it made judgments affecting the allocation of resources. Such a mixture of policy formulation and
program execution was contained in the original National Science Foundation legislation and, I believe, is responsible in no small measure for some of the deficiencies which characterize both the NSF programs and the development of our national science policy. A science policy agency can scarcely have a broad operational program and be free of conflicts of interest.
It is my conviction that a science department, regardless of what it contains specifically in the way of operating programs, would have the same deterrent
to effective service as a focal point for the evolution of science policy;
to the objective consideration of the Nation's science programs;
to general acceptance of its leadership role by other elements of the Federal research and development establishments;
and to its acceptance by the public and the Congress as an unbiased source of advice on the best manner by which our scientific resources can be utilized to satisfy our public (social)
purposes. In such a view, the major thrust of R. & D. would continue to be contained in discrete mission-oriented agencies. This does not imply a view that current arrangements are satisfactory. Our present system would require modification so as to provide for the essential stability of our institutions of higher education, for a more adequate program of graduate education and for an adequate amount of what
I would call support for undifferentiated research essential for a broadly enlightened educational process. Particular note should be taken of the lack of use of basic research as a term generally useful in describing academic science.
These ends could be achieved by combining some of the programs of the Office of Education that directly support graduate education with comparable programs of the NSF; broadening the responsibility of NSF in the field of graduate education and in the direct support of, and further development of our universities; creating substantial and visible foci of support, again in NSF, for divisions or bureaus addressed to the social and behavioral sciences, to the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences, and to the nonmedically relevant biological sciences; providing in NSF the means to provide such centralized and nationalized resources essential for complex research of a fundamental nature but not reasonably replicable in multiple university settings.
In this view, the National Science Foundation, would emphasize the free exploration of science, with adequate resources, in association with our institutions of higher education; the free pursuit of definable problem areas would be the responsibility of mission-oriented agencies; and the general overview of science, including definition of general objectives and the allocation of resources; the function of a central body without operating responsibility. The case has been made very well for the mission-oriented agency by Glenn Seaborg and does not require further comment here. I would only extend his remarks to make one additional point. A major thrust of the President's Science Adviser was that weaknesses in the science base of the several large mission-oriented agencies could best be overcome by an extension of support of NSF. In my view and that of Dr. Seaborg, each missionoriented agency will require a capability to support a broad base of fundamental science particularly relevant to the long-range objectives of the agencies—a dependency on NSF for this function is most inadvisable.
Within such a framework of responsibility, it would be possible to reduce the partial dependence of our universities for their integrity on defense-related support mechanisms, simplify the responsibilities of a number of agencies, viz, Atomic Energy Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Institutes of Health, for stabilizing educational institutions, more particularly our universities, and permit the latter to pursue their course of essential development unfettered by extraneous responsibility. As an aside, and very pertinent to the present crisis in the delivery of health services, medical education and its related functions would continue in NIH.
I do not believe that it is possible to legislate such a situation into being, though I do believe that it is possible to set up, through legislation, a framework within which the essential transfers and adjustments can be achieved. With suitable authority, these might be completed within a 2-year period, but perhaps a more reasonable target would be the completion of the operating framework for a science and education within the time span of the present administration.
Finally, it is not possible in a brief discussion such as this to dispose of—for organizational purposes—the many central devices for
program development now present in the executive establishment, much less in the Congress. In the executive branch, I have in mind the President's Science Advisor and the dependent organizations of the President's Science Advisory Committee, Office of Science and Technology, and Federal Council of Science and Technology as well as the Bureau of the Budget. Surely the latter, that is, BOB, should acquire some science competence in its own right and this could be accomplished in a number of ways. Most certainly the President requires some type of personal advisory structure of high competence for such important areas as science, technology, and related educational enterprises and this might be obtained through a restructuring of OST and PSAC. I doubt that anyone would hold that the combination of OST and FCST as they operate today can subserve the central function described in this presentation.
In conclusion then:
1. Some type of central mechanism is required, placed high in the executive branch of Government, nonoperating in character, that would concern itself with the rational evolution of the science and education resources of the Nation and their utilization to satisfy the needs of our society. Such an organization would be concerned with goals, programs, and the comparative assessment of priorities, not with slogans.
2. Such a mechanism is necessary whether or not we develop a department of science, one of science and technology, or one of science, technology, and higher education. Further, such a mechanism would satisfy many of the deficiencies of our programs today which lead many to propose the establishment of such a department. 3. Our complex society will continue to require
stability for our institutions of higher education;
opportunity to support on a broad base, the exploration of the cutting edge of science through undifferentiated research, the product of individual minds not attuned to immediate relevancy except as a base for a lively educational process;
opportunity to apply the broad reaches of research and development in diverse fields of science and technology in a fashion which clearly relates such activities to societal needs, the latter must be grouped in a manner which recognizes and defines our public purposes and permits the evolution of explicit goals in
important areas of human aspirations. 4. We have before us the extraordinary need to recreate, but now with limited fiscal resources, a situation where, to an optimal extent, the internal mechanics of science can be retained but modulated in a fashion which produces measurable progress toward practical social objectives on the one hand, and a healthy science and educational base on the other. These are the meaningful short- and long-range goals of science.
5. Given the above, I believe we will have a better public understanding of the importance of science in our complex society, and appreciation of its contributions to our major problem areas, and, consequently, a resurgence of popular support.
(Paper presented by Dr. James A. Shannon is as follows:)