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been to dramatize the importance of science to the public and to Congress. It is argued that the time is now ripe for the creation of still another new agency, and that because of general public acceptance of the importance of science, a Department of Science would enjoy support and backing which it could not have expected a few years ago.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST A DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE
1. Science and technology are essentially tools for the achievement of social, political, or economic ends, whose desirability is arrived at through a political process.
Essentially nonscientific ends are embodied in the missions of various government agencies which support scientific programs. It would be unhealthy and inefficient to deprive the mission-oriented agencies of one of the principal tools needed for accomplishing their mission. Even the agencies whose mission is defined mainly in scienitfic terms, such as the Atomic Energy Commission, have large operating and production responsibilities in addition to their research and development responsibility. It would be illogical and inefficient to attempt to separate these operating responsibilities from the research and development which support them, and yet unless these operating responsibilities are separated out, many of the arguments for a Department of Science lose much of their point.
The separation of research and development from operating missions would have one of two effects. Either the scientific effort financed within the Department of Science for the agencies would lose focus and purpose, and would thus become less effective in helping the agency to accomplish its mission, or else, more likely, the mission-oriented agency would “bootleg” its research in the guise of production or some other activity. Such bootleg research would be inefficient, done by the wrong kinds of people, and would lead to substantial duplication of the effort already going on in the Department of Science. We see evidence of this kind of duplication even now in connection with some of the major military and space hardware programs. It would be greatly aggravated and extended beyond the military sphere by the creation of a Department of Science.
2. Science and technology, regarded as ends in themselves, or as purely cultural activities, do not attract public support, at least on the scale which is now required. Support of science on this scale can only be sold to the public and to Congress by identifying it with specific desirable social goals such as the curing of disease, the enhancement of national security or national prestige, or the protection of public health or safety. We have seen many instances of this in the recent past. By identifying the solid-state sciences with the urgent practical materials needs of the Department of Defense, it was possible to achieve nearly a doubling of support of research in this area in some universities. The civilian nuclear power program of the Atomic Energy Commission has attracted wide public support because it was related to a simple and readily understood social goal. The program of the National Institutes of Health has attracted congressional support much more readily than that of the National Science Foundation because it was easy to relate the work done, even the most basic work, to problems of health and disease, which were widely understood.
Some of the problems outlined above might be overcome by organizing the Department of Science in accordance with definite social objectives and goals rather than by scientific discipline. However, this type of organization might remove much of the advantage of flexibility which has been claimed for a Department of Science, and at the same time would not overcome the difficulty of the separation of operational from research and development functions.
3. Competition and diversity in the public support of science are important in ensuring its continued health and in the development of the most effective methods of administration and support. Historical experience suggests that conferring a functional monopoly on any agency in the federal government often leads to stagnation, inertia, and complacency. With the whole of American science now so heavily dependent on federal policies and programs, we cannot afford the risk of too much centralization of control, especially the risk of stagnation or political manipulation. Under the present system of basic research support by many federal agencies, individual agencies take great pride in the quality and productivity of the programs which they support and vie with each other in creating the conditions of administration which will attract proposals from the highest quality scientific groups. The inherent competitiveness of the scientific
community has been matched by a healthy competitiveness within the government, which has led individual agencies to formulate their policies in such a way as to invite the confidence, approval, and praise of the scientific community. Furthermore, the institutional and educational needs of science are quite diverse, and so the variation in policies which some complain about has certain advantages. Decentralized decision-making in the support of basic science certainly does create problems and results not only in some inefficiencies but also in undesirable effects on universities and research institutions. On the other hand, the decentralization of decision-making gives the scientific community å leverage on federal science policy which it would gradually lose were the policy centralized in a single agency. There is also an opposite danger that a Department of Science would become the captive of narrowly professional scientific concerns and interests and would cease to develop science in the best interests of the nation.
4. The imbalance between different scientific areas supposedly created by the present system of science support is probably not as serious in practice as it appears on paper. The missions of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Space Administration, and the Defense Department have provided a very broad stimulation to the physical sciences across the board, and there are few areas that have been seriously neglected as a result. Indeed, the glamourization of the missions of these agencies has probably resulted in more, rather than less, broad support for basic science. Many of the deficiencies noted in areas such as oceanography, geophysics, or atmospheric sciences have been due not so much to neglect as to the appearance of new opportunities opened up by massive progress in other areas of science or technology. Thus the appearance of such deficiencies should be regarded as a sign of the health of our whole scientific effort. If such deficiencies are recognized and met, little has been lost. As long as we maintain the quality of our whole scientific effort and training at a sufficiently high level, we are in a position to make up newly identified deficiencies very rapidly, since well-trained scientists can channel their talents rapidly into entirely new areas.
The fashions in science, which often appear capricious to the layman, produce in practice a concentration of effort which leads to breakthroughs more rapidly and effectively than would a more centrally managed and less spontaneous effort. Scientific fashions and the rapid evolution and dissolution of communities of interest within science are strongly offsetting influences to the apparent high degree of institutional fragmentation in U.S. science, especially in the field of basic research.
5. The world scientific community constitutes an extremely complex social system, a subsystem within our whole society which is very little understood, least of all by scientists themselves. The present system of federal support of science has grown in an evolutionary way with relatively little conscious planning and has been the result of thousands of individual scientific and governmental decisions in response to immediately felt needs. Nobody is wise enough to foresee all of the effects of any organizational change at the federal level, especially when one factors in the unpredictable influence of individual personalities. It is more sensible for the government to make small organizational changes and arrangements in response to specific and clearly identified needs and deficiencies rather than attempt to mastermind or rationalize the whole process by setting up a radically new and apparently more logical organization whose effects would, in fact, be completely unpredictable. The creation of the Office of Special Assistant to the President, the President's Science Advisory Committee, the Federal Council for Science and Technology, and most recently, the Office of Science and Technology are examples of evolutionary changes of the type that are most likely to meet the requirements for government planning for science. We need to create such institutions one at a time, and measure their influence on the scientific enterprise over a significant period. We also need to devise ways to make the most effective use of existing institutions.
Many deficiencies in our planning for science are the result of inadequate understanding of planning itself, of what things should be influenced by government and what things should be left to the natural responses of the scientific community. These deficiencies will not be removed by organizational changes but only by improved understanding of the relations between science and society.
It is possible that the present system for governing federal science is gradually evolving toward a Department of Science or something closely resembling it. If this is so, it will be much healthier if this evolution does not take place too rapidly or too radically.
6. The most serious management problems pertaining to government science and technology are related not to basic and applied research but rather to large development projects. The problems in this area are connected fundamentally with the choices among alternative goals rather than with specifically technical problems. Most of these choices involve economic evaluations (as in the case of civilian nuclear power) or operational cost-effectiveness studies (as in military and space systems). To an increasing degree these decisions depend as much on considerations of political, social, or military goals as on questions of technical feasibility. It is difficult to see how a Department of Science, which is further removed from these nonscientific aspects, could deal more effectively with this type of problem than the existing federal departments and agencies. Indeed one of the problems with which we are faced in the development of major systems is that technical feasibility tends to become confused with military or economic desirability. Technological developments tend to take on a life of their own, independent of the military, social, or economic context in which they will operate. The number of technical possibilities is rapidly exceeding the availability of resources to realize them, and more and more the problem of choice becomes a problem in resource allocation, an economic rather than a technical problem. The tendency for divorcement of technology from its political, social, or military context is likely to be aggravated rather than relieved by the creation of a Department of Science. There appear to be no good substitute for the present methods of debate and negotiation for resolving the complex interactions of technical and nontechnical considerations which are inevitably involved in all of our major decisions about priorities, whether between research fields, between hardware or operational systems, or even between research and procurement.
7. While the protection of the integrity of basic research is of the utmost importance, maintenance of a proper channel of communication from basic research to applications is also essential to the effective conduct of development. In the federal government, this channel is most effectively provided by the program officers who administer basic research for their mission-oriented agencies. It should be the duty of these program officers to understand the applied needs and requirements for their agency and to be alert to all the opportunities for filling these needs, which result not only from the basic research programs that they administer but also from related work throughout the whole body of science. It is their thorough knowledge of basic research and their contact with the scientific community which give them the necessary communication with the scientific world to alert them to the opportunities provided by science, but they need also to understand enough of the mission of their agency to be able to match scientific opportunity to need. If all basic research programs were administered exclusively in the Department of Science, the vital channel of communication between basic and applied work would be weakened, since the program officers of the Department of Science, though highly competent in science, would not be thoroughly familiar with the needs and requirements of the various government agencies.
1. In the American system of government, central management of the scientific enterprise, even by scientists, cannot be an effective alternative to the complicated and often frustrating process of arriving at a national consensus. Science is an important instrument for almost all the goals of the federal government; the agencies responsible for the achievement of these goals cannot function effectively if they do not individually keep their channels of communication open to the world scientific community, which they can only do by carrying out or supporting research and development on their own.
2. Although the present diversity of support and decentralization of decisionmaking for science are desirable, further fractionalization of scientific support should probably be discouraged, and in general, new areas of science should be developed by existing agencies or by the interagency mechanism rather than by the creation of wholly new federal scientific agencies.
3. The creation of any new scientifically oriented federal agency should be considered only when its service, production, or other operational functions reach an importance that is at least commensurate with its research and development function.
4. Better long-range planning for science and technology in the federal government is urgently needed, but in the last analysis, must be achieved by inter
agency agreement rather than by central direction. Many of the weaknesses noted in the present system for the management of science result from lack of technical competence or lack of adequate status for scientific activities within the agencies themselves rather than from deficiencies in central management and planning.
5. The function of central planning and coordination for science in the federal government is not to control the substance of the scientific activity in the nation but rather to ensure that the scientific enterprise as a whole develops in a way which is most responsive to the needs of the country and regulates itself responsibly. This function includes making sure that the needs and opportunities in science are made known and receive the proper attention in the process of arriving at a consensus on what the government should do. In the final analysis, continued and increasing support of science by the federal government will depend upon its continuing ability to demonstrate its social utility. Although the cultural and ethical aspects of science are of tremendous importance, one cannot expect that society will continue to support it on the present scale as a purely cultural activity. Therefore, in the management of science by the federal government attention must be given to the efficient utilization of science and to the realization of the opportunities it provides. Effective utilization does not automatically follow from a healthy and vigorous basic science, which is thus a necessary but not a sufficient condition.
[U.S. CONGRESS, SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS. ESTABLISH A COMMISSION ON THE ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON
EXECUTIVE REORGANIZATION, 90TH CONG., SECOND SESS., JANUARY-MAY 1968]
EXCERPT FROM TESTIMONY OF DR. J. HERBERT HOLLOMON, PRESIDENT-DESIGNATE OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, it is a pleasure and a privilege to appear before your subcommittee to discuss the important proposed legislation related to a study of the goals, structure and organization of the Federal Establishment. This appearance before your subcommittee is my first as a private citizen, after more than 5 years of appearances as a member of the executive branch.
I assure you that the circumstances are different and I appreciate the opportunity to bring to the subcommittee the results of my experience. I have a brief statement I should like to present, and thereafter answer any questions you may have.
LONG-RANGE PLANNING AND EVALUATION IS LACKING
When I first came to Washington after 15 years of industry, I was most surprised at the almost total absence of long-range assessment and evaluation of the possible future of our country, particularly with respect to matters affecting our domestic economy and well-being. I thought that in Washington I would find a significant group, both in the executive and legislative branches, who concerned themselves with such matters. I thought that while industry of necessity, must be concerned mostly with the short range, there must be those in Washington dedicated to examining the longer range consequences of our current actions and the alternatives for us in the future. I was disappointed.
MIGRATION FROM RURAL AREAS NOT ANTICIPATED
Let me give you a specific example. For decades our policy toward agriculture has been to increase its efficiency, reduce the cost of food and encourage technological advances that would permit the production of food and fiber to the best benefit of the Nation and its people. This program has, in the main, been successful. In recent years the results have been impressive with an improvement in efficiency measured by the increased farm output per worker of nearly 6 percent per year.
But we did not anticipate, at least if we did there were no policies in effect to modify it, the vast migration to the cities and the problems in our slums. We did not anticipate the great social discontent that has resulted from this migration. We acted as if the problems of agricultural improvement were separate from urban development and implicitly, but not explicitly, encouraged that migration. In a recent study by the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, it was concluded that this migration will continue unless and until we look at the problem in its entirety and provide incentives that encourage rural industrialization and the regrowth of our small towns.
While hindsight is always clearer than foresight, I insist that analysis and study would have permitted policies to be adopted to ameliorate the problem with less direct Government involvement than is now needed to meet the crises of the cities.
GEAR PROGRAMS TO MEET FUTURE PROBLEMS
Now, our executive leadership must be used to deal with this and other immediate crises. This effort drains energy and perforce directs attention to problems of the immediate present rather than problems of the anticipated future.
While the crisis in the cities needs imaginative programs of self-help today, we must, at the same time, look to the problems of continued migration pressures and the quality of city life of the future.
Had we looked at the total problem a number of years ago, I believe it would have been possible to provide programs, incentives, and policies through which the problems of discontent, alienation, and poverty in America could have been ameliorated.
It is obvious to me that there should be considered within the executive branch of the Government some means of thoroughly examining and anticipating the broad range of problems that our country shall face, particularly at home.
This is essential if we are to be sure that we use our resources to the best advantage and that the quality of our life will be the highest of which we are capable.
The second series of observations have to do with two major activities that affect much of our total welfare. These two activities are business and industry on the one hand, and science and technology on the other.
Business and industry provide the vehicle which generates the wealth of our Nation. They provide products and services which all of us enjoy and which protect our security. Science and technology today affect every facet of modern life. They alter the course of human welfare, influence every aspect of government, and provide the basis for development of new products and services.
The effects of science and technology through the development of modern industry, modern transport devices and the like, change the character of our total physical environment.
The integration of transportation activities has begun in the new Department of Transportation. No similar organization exists in the executive branch which is concerned with the broad, general matters, of science and technology. Neither in the case of business and industry, nor in science and technology is there a broadly based responsible department having the purview for these two matters so vital to our present and future welfare.
USE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS
While the President's pro als for a Department of Economic Affairs-or Business and Labor—might not have been the best possible arrangement, it would have represented a great step forward in integrating these matters related to our industrial and commercial enterprises.
Those who viewed only the short-term disadvantages to their constituencies effectively scuttled the proposal. It clearly deserved a better fate. We have in this country in our great industries and in our major governmental departments realized that science and technology provide new possibilities for change and improvement, and as a consequence, they are interwoven into the structure of these organizations.
The Department of Defense, in order to insure an adequate supply of future weapons and systems, has a large and important research and development activity. Even the Post Office Department now has a technical arm growing in strength, importance, and effectiveness.
In the last 25 years, we have accepted the fact that science and technology cannot be a thing apart and each agency must be prepared through organization and programs to use its results.
DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROPOSED
Now, it is time to ask if there isn't a need for a Department of Science and Technology to be responsible for those broad matters affecting the whole fabric of human existence and our national life. I would propose that a commission