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But the point to be made is that fundamental research is only understandable if one takes the time and trouble to place it within a frame of reference that is understandable to the layman, be he part of the general public or part of the Congress. The possibilities of exciting presentations go far beyond the few examples noted above, but this requires thoughtful consideration by the NSF of why indeed one field should be supported as contrasted to another. This is possible and indeed is done to varying degrees in every complex research environment in the nation. Why not also by NSF?
In addition, I believe that most members of the Legislative branch are pleased to have the opportunity to come into contact with working scientists and, in view of the large number of scientific meetings that are held in the Washington area, it seems to me that the National Science Foundation might undertake on a formal or informal basis to arrange for contacts between these two groups at social events.
Question 2. From your recent Federal experience, can you offer any observations regarding the effects on management or organization of Federal science activities which were brought about by the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques ?
Answer 2. The NIH experience with PPBS has been disappointing. It has been found to be a costly system to apply in fields of science and education; to be as misleading as helpful when simplified and modified to be understood by top management; and not useful as a management tool in program analysis and program development.
It is quite pertinent to point out that DOD, the originator of this system did not find PPBS a useful system in DOD areas comparable to those of NIH. Areas amenable to input and output measurements and convertible to cost-effectiveness and cost benefit analyses are too few to make the system generally and profitably applicable.
It is my understanding, from many discussions, that research, particularly basic research, is one area of activity to which these methods and techniques cannot be usefully applied. With the exception of activities in the Department of Defense, the attempt to apply PPBS to other sectors of federal activity seems to me to be still in its infancy. The decision to undertake this task came before adequately trained personnel were available and I think it will be many years before the techniques can be successfully applied across the board. I am unaware of any significant effect of PPBS on federal science activities up until this time.
Mr. DADDARIO. Thank you all.
This committee will adjourn until tomorrow morning at this same place, at 10 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12:02 p.m., the committee was adjourned, to reconvene on Thursday, July 31, 1969.)
CENTRALIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENCE ACTIVITIES
THURSDAY, JULY 31, 1969
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a.m., in room 2335, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Emilio Q. Daddario (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DADDARIO. This meeting will come to order.
Our witnesses this morning are Dr. Franklin A. Long, vice president for research and advanced studies, Cornell University; Gen. Bernard Schriever of Schriever and Associates, formerly in command of the Air Force Systems Command; and Dr. Eric Walker, president of Penn State University and president also of the National Academy of Engineering
We welcome all of you here this morning. There is no need for me to do more than refer to your names, because you have all been witnesses before this committee in the past. The biographical material is well known to all of the members. We do believe that we do have here this morning three men who have had long and close associations with the management, organization, and activities which are involved with the use of our science resources. It will be a particular help to this committee in its present deliberations.
I think we will start then, with Dr. Long, followed by General Schriever, and then Dr. Walker. We will, also, break in if necessary. Dr. Long? (The prepared statement of Dr. Franklin A. Long is as follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT BY DR. FRANKLIN A. LONG
I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to appear before this committee and to discuss the kinds of centralization which may be desirable for federal consideration of programs of teaching and research in science. Before mentioning my general views, I should perhaps tell you enough of my background to let you appreciate from what standpoints I shall be concerned. A first point is that I am a professor of Chemistry. A second is that for several years I have been Vice President for Research and Advanced Studies at Cornell University, and from this vantage point, have been deeply interested in the broad problems which relate to teaching and research of science in universities. I have also been extensively involved with the affairs of a consortium of universities, the one which goes by the name of Associated Universities, Inc. and which operates the Brookhaven National Laboratory for the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory for the National Science Foundation. As a consequence of this last, I have been concerned with the role of assemblies of universities and with the ways in which they can work with the government in the management of large science facilities.
Let me now turn to the particular subject of this Committee's study and outline in a general way the positions which I hold. First, believe that the federal government does need additional centralized arrangements for handling its programs in basic and applied science and therefore commend the Committee's investigations in this area. I shall point to one or two specific areas where I think centralized efforts are needed. At the same time, I am doubtful whether it is yet time to take the full step of setting up either a Department of Science or a major National Institutes of Science. Instead I think the government should move toward greater centralization in this area but do it at a somewhat slower pace, learning as it goes. In supporting these positions, I will discuss a few topics in which there is great federal interest and give you my views and my feelings as to where a more centralized activity could usefully contribute.
1. PROBLEMS OF FEDERAL SUPPORT OF TEACHING AND RESEARCH OF SCIENCE IN THE
It is well known that federal funds have assumed a major role in the support of teaching and research of the natural sciences in the colleges and universities of the United States. This support has principally come to the universities under the Fabric Research although small amounts of funds have come for fellowships from the Office of Education. An important point is that this support has come from a number of federal agencies. Several of these, including DOD and HEW, have explicit missions; only the National Science Foundation and perhaps the Office of Education can be thought of as agencies which support the university programs for their own sake.
There is no question but that United States science has grown and flourished under this federal support. At the same time one must admit that there are some awkward aspects, aspects which will continue to concern such Congressional committees as this one. One problem is the occasional awkwardness that comes from having a large fraction of the university effort supported by missionoriented agencies. There is the danger that the various mission-oriented agencies will not be willing to support all of the important fields of science and there is the danger of undue support of and emphasis on research as compared with teaching. Finally there is the danger of fluctuating support depending upon the needs of the federal agencies.
These comments should not, however, be taken to imply that universities do not want or should not accept research grants from mission-oriented agencies. On the contrary, support from such agencies as HEW, Interior, DOD and Agriculture has been of great consequence to universities and will surely remain so. The role of the university in the national planning and decision-making has been large in the past and I hope and believe it will continue to be so in the future. The problem then is not one of withdrawal but rather of program balance, of program continuity and of integration of the efforts of the various agencies.
A potentially important answer to many of these problems is increasingly to turn the support of university programs of research and teaching over to the National Science Foundation. It is of great significance to basic science that this Foundation has grown and flourished over the past decade. A large share of the credit for this growth must go to your committee and the scientists of the nation are grateful. Because of NSF's unique charge to support all of science, it is of the greatest importance that this agency continue to flourish and grow and I strongly hope that this will be a general federal policy. I have read Dr. Bridges' testimony of last week to this Committee and am glad to be able strongly to second his great emphasis on the special role of NSF.
However, it is hard to be optimistic that the federal situation will, in the near future, change so sharply that the majority of university support will come from NSF. Certainly many of the mission-oriented federal agencies will wish some fraction of their basic research to be done in universities, and I for one hope that this can continue even as NSF grows.
If pluralistic federal support of science in universities does continue, it seems to me that the need for improved coordination at the federal level can only increase. There already exist coordinating mechanisms for the activities of various federal science-oriented agencies, notably the Federal Council for Science and Technology. However, I am not persuaded that this committee has either the time or the capability to take on the large and continuing job of in-depth coordination which I think is needed for support of science programs in the universities.
One point is that the coordinating entity should assume responsibility for both the research and teaching aspects of federally supported programs.
They should also consider the question of the necessary facilities and equipment. They should have responsibility to deal with such questions as commonality in contract writing, in reporting mechanisms, and patent policies, to name only a few items. Without being certain of what shape the coordinating activity might take, I hope this Committee continues to give this a priority in their consideration of centralized activities.
I should note that the National Science Foundation has some formal responsibility for this kind of coordination. However this has not been effectively done in the past and I am presently doubtful whether it will be in the future. Hence my belief that some additional mechanism is probably needed.
2. THE PROBLEM OF A NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR BASIC AND APPLIED SCIENCE
The research in basic and applied science in the United States is performed by a very large number of institutions that can probably be thought of as falling within three major groups: private industry; the universities; the federal laboratories. Only by considering the activities of these three groups can one properly say that one is considering the national science program. My own belief is that in a very broad sense the ingredients of this national program should be a concern of the federal government. Furthermore, I believe that if the federal government is to respond to this concern it will need a centralized activity which either does not now exist or exists in too limited a state to be useful. The essential problem is that of program balance and especially of response to new national needs. At any given time, the total national science effort is a mixture of programs, some of which historically relate to the older research institutions and others of which represent a developing response to new problems as they arise in industry or in government or as basic science brings them forth in its own way. Many of the new needs for applied science will arise from new awareness of socially related national problems, pollution and the like.
Conceivably, the federal government could adopt an almost entirely "standoffish" attitude and permit the national science program simply to be that which developed by the multiple responses of all of the relevant research groups and agencies. However, even if attempted I doubt whether this would work with applied science. As technology is increasingly needed and applied in our civilization the pressures for new programs and for modifications of ongoing programs will continue to impact on the federal government. There will be vigorous proponents of expanded space exploration programs or of new programs in oceanography or of new studies of the environment. In one way or another the federal government will be forced to respond to these pressures. Even within the field of basic sciences some federal responses will be needed, if for no other reason than that the available funds are limited so that the funding of any given expensive basic science effort will necessarily impact on others. Conceivably, the questions of program balance in basic science could be handled by the basic scientists themselves, but historically, this has not happened and there seems to be no reason to think it will. In applied science the combination of national needs and outside pressures will simply not permit any casual abdication of federal responsibility.
Some mechanisms for responding to this problem of program balance already exist. Hearings before Congressional committees respond to some degree. Considerations of the Bureau of the Budget constitute another kind of response. Finally, OST and PSAC both study this problem and make recommendations. The question is whether this set of responses is sufficient. In my judgment it is not. I am persuaded that a more professional, more continuing and more directly responsible analytical and planning procedure is needed. A possible mechanism is the establishment within the federal government of a Planning Bureau for Federal Science Programs, where the word science explicitly includes both basic and applied science. This new Bureau could be sufficiently well funded to permit extensive analysis of ongoing programs as well as of proposed new programs. It should probably be located within the Executive Branch of the government, but it should be charged to be responsive to requests from Congress. It is entirely possible that the correct home for such a group is within the National Science Foundation, but if so, it should be established in such a way that it carries a separate budget item and is explicitly given a very large degree of autonomy and independence.
I am conscious that an organization of this type contains within it some potential dangers. Unimaginative analysis and planning could work to delay needed new programs and could work toward the preservation of obsolete ones. Pressures from important groups or agencies could distort the analyses. On the other hand these sorts of things need not happen and the potential for positive good is so great that I strongly feel that the overall result would be of immense benefit. It is even possible that the existence of a vigorous group within the government would catalyze the appearance of parallel groups outside the government which could do for this national program something of the same sort that the Brookings Institute has done in the analysis of the impact of federal programs on the national economy. This development would be wholly desirable.
3. PROBLEMS WITHIN THE DIRECT FEDERALLY MANAGED SCIENCE PROGRAMS
The Federal Government itself is a major producer of science. There now exist literally hundreds of in-house federally supported laboratories responsible to a large number of different federal agencies. If one adds to this group, as one should, the large Federal contract laboratories such as the AEC National Laboratories, the total activity is impressive indeed.
The need for such in-house laboratories is obvious enough. The technically oriented agencies require groups of scientists and engineers who can respond directly and rapidly to agency needs. Furthermore, the area of the applied science and development particularly calls for strong in-house groups. One can argue that private industry could take over these applied research functions. In actual fact, the very management of industrial R&D contracts virtually requires that there be significant in-house capability within an agency. For these reasons and many others we do have a very substantial federal in-house program of research in applied science.
These in-house laboratories, which give strong support to the Federal Agencies, also raise some serious problems. There is the problem of keeping these laboratories operating at a high-level efficiency, particularly in classified areas where interactions with outside professional groups are necessarily restricted. More often than not, these laboratories have neither the spur of profit-oriented effectiveness and relevance which goes with laboratories in private industry nor the almost automatic renewing effect which universities receive from the steady flow of new students. Furthermore the missions of the supporting agencies change considerably over time and requirements for new kinds of research building up.
Hence the dangers of obsolescence and irrelevance are constantly with the federal laboratories. So also is the danger of undue overlay among the laboratories of the several supporting agencies. Finally there is a tendency, which clearly must be resisted, to establish a new Federal laboratory as a response to each new national need.
Here then is another area where a centralized federal activity can be of immense help. The essential tasks are coordination ; integration ; mission-analysis ; forward planning. Two other tasks are important however. One is development of ways to enhance the interactions of federal laboratories with each other and with universities. A second is to encourage multiple agency use of ongoing laboratories. A fine example of the first is the JILA program whereby the National Bureau of Standards and the Physical Department of the University of Colorado have developed a collaborative, mutually beneficial program. In the second category the broadening of the programs of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to extend beyond AEC tasks into such fields as desalination and civil defense is wholly admirable and points the way for other federal laboratories. A central activity could examine these and similar arrangements, report on their effectiveness and encourage comparable innovative programs in other federal laboratories.
4. MECHANISMS FOR CENTRALIZED FEDERAL CONSIDERATION OF SCIENCE PROGRAMS
As I complete my discussion of this broad topic I am conscious that I have been less explicit in my considerations of specific organizational changes. This is primarily because the organizational aspects are not areas where I feel very knowledgeable. Furthermore, I am persuaded that there are a number of possible directions which if followed thoughtfully could lead to substantial improvement in the federal response. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the one conceivable possibility is an expansion and modification of the already existing Office of Science and Technology.