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In the 89th Congress Chairman McClellan, joined by Senators Mundt, Ribicoff, Gruening, and Yarborough, reintroduced the commission bill (S. 1136) on 17 February 1965, and Representative Wolff sponsored the companion bill (H.R. 5609) in the House. By now a congressional interest in the proposal had waned. No hearings were held, and the Senate committee did not bother to report it out. Humphrey, no longer a Senator, presided over the Senate as Vice President and became immersed in intricacies of space and ocean programs as statutory chairman of technical councils in these areas. Occasionally, voices renewed the call for a department. Ralph Lapp proposed a Department of Science in his 1965 book. The New Priesthood (33). J. Herbert Holloman, after 5 years as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology, recommended to the Ribicoff subcommittee in 1968 that a Department of Science and Technology be a prime subject for study by a proposed Commission on Organization and Management of the Executive Branch (34). At the year's end, Donald F. Hornig, from the vantage point of “five years at the bench of U.S. science policy," spoke out before the AAAS in favor of a Department of Science as well as a strengthening of the President's science advisory setup (35).

As one traces the lines of argument for and against departmental status for science, it is apparent that they thread back to the controversy of the 1880's. The positive side, projected by the NAS committe report of 1884, is that science will benefit from the status and prestige which go with cabinet rank and large departmental resources. The negative side, well stated by Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler before the congressional commission in 1884, is that science is not a government mission in itself but an aspect of other and proper departmental missions; consequently science bureaus or functions should be placed or remain within the department to which they are “naturally related" (36). Contemporary formulations haven't improved much on these themes. Proponents of a separate department for science view its secretary as a protector and spokesman of science in government councils, while opponents see a bureaucratic monstrosity in which politics prevail over scientific objectivity. On both sides attitudes are hardened by conviction or softened by practical considerations. Doubtless many who are otherwise well-intentioned toward a new department fear that it would cut down opportunities for grants and contracts given by various uncoordinated government science agencies. Others who are moved more by a concern for economy in government than for prestige in science believe that departmental organization would eliminate duplication and insure closer coordination of costly government programs.


That it is impracticable to tear out research and development functions from department and agency settings and bring them all together in a new department goes without saying. But the case for a Department of Science and Technology cannot be that easily dismissed. To argue that science is a means and not an end, or that science (and technology) is not by itself a major purpose of government justifying departmental organization, narrows the issue unduly and overlooks some very practical problems. Agricultural research, let us quickly agree, is properly a part of the Department of Agriculture mission, but what about the large relatively self-contained or semiautonomous agencies with missions which fall almost completely in the domain of science and technology and which overshadow in size and importance some of the older departments? If AEC's mission is atomic energy development and NASA's is space exploration, it is merely tautological to distinguish these missions from science and technology in given fields. Then it becomes a pragmatic problem of government organization (and politics) to determine whether it is advantageous to bring together in a single department selected agencies and sibagencies associated by shared purposes, related functions, or some other definding element of mutual involvement. Modern precepts of government organization and administration favor a rela. tively few strong departments encompassing similar or related functions in place of a profusion of independent agencies. The quest here is more compelling than a desire for organizational symmetry or housekeeping tidiness. The President, as manager of the executive branch, does not have the time to deal with scores of agencies. To maintain a proper "span of control” he must strive to bring agencies within departmental confines and depend on the department heads to administer the manifold affairs of government (37).

The challenge is that government in all its diversity does not lend itself easily to departmentalizing by major vurpose or mission or any other organizing prin

ciple. Most organizational arrangements are less ambitious expedient responses to urgent problems dictated more by politics than political science. Government takes on a patchwork appearance. From time to time attempts are made to sort out and rearrange agencies and functions in more orderly patterns, even to the extent of disestablishing or reforming old departments. Not every worthy government cause which seeks wider acceptance and ampler resources through separate departmental status can be accommodated. A multiplicity of departments would defeat the rationale for departmental organization. On the other hand, if a department embraces too many missions or disparate functions, it becomes unwieldly—a conglomerate or a holding company in which the secretary struggles constantly to keep in line strong-willed administrators of operating agencies.

In a dynamic, democratic society, governmental reorganization, despite the obstacles, signifies changing policy, a new approach—and reorganization on a departmental scale makes the greatest impact. Accordingly every administration can be expected to give special attention to such possibilities. Since World War II, each President has opted for a new department–Truman for DOD, Eisenhower for HEW, Kennedy for HUD, and Johnson for DOT (38). The Nixon Administration has established an advisory group on reorganization, whose recommendations are yet to be made (39). Characteristically, the post-World War II departments each represent a coalescence of established agencies and resources to subserve a broader policy or purpose of government. In several instances, the way was prepared by interim coordinating organizations. Thus, the DOD was preceded by a looser federation formally known as the Military Establishment, HEW by the Federal Security Agency, and HUD by the Housing and Home Fi. nance Agency. The Department of Transportation, the latest departmental creation, did not go through a transitional form but established transportation agencies were a base upon which to build.

Science and technology, comprising large sectors of government activity with various organizational forms, have a similar potential for departmental organization. When great national problems arose, requiring positive and pointed government response, independent agencies were created—the AEC for the control of atomic energy after Hiroshima, the VSF to preserve the post-World War II momentum of research and development, and NASA after Sputnik. With the pa ssing years, as missions are completed or redirected and as agencies mature, it is difficult to maintain the momentum and the excitement of the early days. New problems emerge, priorities are reassessed, talents are turned elsewhere. The atomic energy program is about 20 years old, the NSF has been in business 18 years, and the space agency, past its 10th birthday, will age rather quickly after a lunar landing. Reorganization generates its own excitement, infuses new energies, develops new missions.


Thus AEC and NASA, independent technical agencies with multibillion-dollar yearly budgets, are prime candidates for transfer to a new department. Their interests increasingly will overlap as boosters and spacecraft come to depend more on nuclear technology. Both are sponsors of hardware development as well as basic research. Both are involved in intricate ways with Department of Defense programs. Both have large laboratory complexes and diversified resources for research and development. Both are faced with probable cutbacks and the need to reassess missions for the long term. The reassessment, in NASA's case, is associated with the moon landing, which will climax a decade of technical effort directed largely to this single goal. New vistas of space exploration beckon, but in the welfare decade of the 1970's more earth-bound causes will exert a strong gravitational pull on funds.

As for the AEC, the growth of nuclear stockpiles to what many regard as overkill dimensions and the gradual shift to industry of responsibility for nuclear power development are less climactic. The safety and regulatory functions associated with nuclear power, which some foresee as AEC's major responsibility ahead, could well be transferred to the Federal Power Commission, possibly helping to rejuvenate an old-line agency, just as the Federal Communications Commission has had to grapple with the regulatory aspects of satellite communications. Nuclear ordnance development and fabrication possibly could be shifted to the Department of Defense (40). The Department of Science and Technology would have, one may conceive, a space service and an atomic service, perhaps less ambitious than at present but still performing vital scientific and technical

work. The reorganization also would permit a realignment and better integration of the great laboratory complexes associated with these two agencies. Indeed, the realignment process for federal laboratories as a whole could be speeded up by this means.

The National Science Foundation is a somewhat different type of agency. It maintains no laboratories except a few contract research centers and builds no large projects or systems, with the exception of the ill-fated Mohole project. It values its relative independence and freedom from political influences in supporting academic science. In terms of prospective departmental status, it could be argued that NSF has as much affinity with education as with science, and if a separate Department of Education were to be created, undoubtedly there would be advocates for inclusion of NSF. On the other hand, education reaches out toward areas of contemporary concern not closely identified with science, such as job training and placement and manpower development, so that some envisage education as the organizing principle for a Department of Human Resources (41). Hornig favors the science-education nexus. He would make NSF the "core" of a Department of Science, linking basic research closely with higher education. In this concept, the new department would be little concerned with technology as distinguished from science, leaving technological development to "agencies with specific tasks and missions" (35).

In the writer's view, the prospects for departmental status are greatly improved if technology and science are conjoined. Creating a new department is difficult enough in itself, but technology provides more leverage and power for organizational change than basic research or pure science. The new department would need a bigger core or a broader base than that offered by NSF alone. In any event, the writer sees no serious obstacle to making the NSF a component of a Department of Science and Technology. In that way grants and other financial support to academic institutions could be better integrated, since NASA and AEC also are substantial contributors to academic science. Furthermore, the 1968 amendments to the National Science Foundation Act add applied research to the agency's responsibilities and thereby bring it closer to the technological concerns of other government agencies (42).

There is good logic in establishing a Department of Science and Technology to house not only older, more mature agencies but also new ones, which have not yet found a suitable home. Oceanography and related disciplines or technologies may be put in this class. Numerous government agencies are engaged in marine science activities, but the Congress has been groping for a decade or more to find the organizational base for a broad program of ocean development. The 1966 legislation, which created a temporary commission and a council for marine sciences and resources, stated a policy and provided a coordinating group but sidestepped the basic organizaitonal problem (43). The Commission on Marine Sciences. Engineering and Resources, on the eve of its demise, proposed that a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency be created as “the principal instrumentality within the Federal Government for administration of the Nation's civil marine and atmospheric programs.” At the same time, the commission pointed out that it was proposing "an organization which can easily fit into a more fundamental restructuring of the Federal Government(44). Clearly, the commission was leaving the door open for incorporation of marine sciences and resources in a Department of Science and Technology.


One of the immediate advantages in creating a new government house for science and technology is the opportunity it affords for eliminating the clutter in the Executive Office of the President or at least making room for needed new services. The Aeronautics and Space Council and the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development both could be abolished or, along with PSAC and OST, shifted in whole or in part to the new department, though it must be recognized that the President will continue to need a science adviser with some staff of his own. The Vice President, now statutory chairman of the space and marine councils, could retain his valuable association with government science and continue to gain the technical information and insight needed for leadership in our technocratic society by serving in some appropriate capacity, possibly as chairman of the advisory apparatus annexed to the new department. The Office of Telecommunications Management, for want of a better alternative, also could be housed in the Department of Science and Technology. This office

needs strengthening to deal with communications problems of growing severity and technical sophistication. The Post Office and Transportation Departments each could make a claim for telecommunications management, but obviously they have enough problems of their own.

The removal from the Executive Office of its scientific or technical councils and offices is not a downgrading of science but a practical recognition that the President cannot give them sustained attention (45). Moreover, they have less impact on affairs than is usually supposed. Their directors parade before the government departments and agencies clothed in the uniform of Presidential prestige but are uncertain to what extent they can speak or act in his name. The department head directing a broad range of scientific and technical programs with a large budget has power and prestige of a more compelling kind. His command of resources, public visibility, and cabinet participation enable him to serve as principal science adviser to the President in a much more direct and positive way than the White House adviser or Executive Office functionary several steps removed from the scene of departmental action and operations. If the scientific community is concerned about prestige for science in government, there is considerable trade-off value in a department head as against the Executive Office coordinator or consultant.

Another advantage is that the new department could house technical agencies or bureaus which are obstacles to, or casualties of other reorganizations. For example, in January 1967, President Johnson proposed a merger of the Departments of Commerce and Labor (46). He did not push the proposal when the response in congressional and some other quarters seemed unfavorable. Despite the inevitable resistance, there was merit in a merger, the objective being a department of economic affairs or economic development. Since the Department of Commerce has acquired by historical accretion a number of important technical services now encompassed in the Environmental Science Services Administration, the National Bureau of Standards, the U.S. Patent Office, and other units, it would have made sense, in the event of a Commerce-Labor merger, to extract these technical agencies and place them in a Department of Science and Technology.

Finally, a Department of Science and Technology would provide better interface with the Department of Defense. Although it would not be wise to transfer research and development commands, offices, or agencies from the Department of Defense to the civilian department in any wholesale fashion, conceivably several military-managed laboratories, agencies, or programs could be transferred on a selective basis if their relationship to military needs is limited, if they now serve many government users, and if their concern is more with science than with defense (47). A civil department conveniently could assume DOD responsibilities in supporting educational centers of excellence or sponsoring certain kinds of social or other research. This need not be a one-way transfer process, since formation of a new department might well involve assignment of certain functions to the military, as mentioned before in the case of nuclear ordnance. More systematic coordination and congruence of policy and program can be achieved by two major departments in balance than by one department on the military side dealing with assorted scientific and technical agencies on the civil side. Even a casual perusal of the numerous memoranda of understanding, working arrangements, and coordinating mechanisms between the DOD and NASA, for example, suggests the complexity of these interagency relationships. Complexity cannot be eliminated but it can be reduced. The logic here is even more persuasive as agencies wrestle with joint projects and interacting programs.

All the decisions as to the composition of the Department of Science and Technology need not, of course, be made at one time. If the universe of government agencies is surveyed and all possible candidates identified, then problems of transfer would seem too overwhelming for immediate solution. The important first step is to assemble the independent agencies and subagencies as the depart. mental core, and then to build around them. This in itself will be a monumental task, but the vision of the National Academy committee of 1884 may still be sound (48).

REFERENCES AND VOTES 1. Act of 7 July 1884, 23 Stat. 219. The commission, composed of three members

each from the House and Senate, was known as the Allison Commission after its chairman, Senator William B. Allison of Iowa. Lyman served as one of the House members on the commission until the end of the 48th Congress on 3 March 1885. He was defeated for reelection.

2. Congr. Rec. 15, 6175 (7 July 1884). 3. The NAS committee's report was transmitted to Lyman by 0. C. Marsh,

president of the National Academy of Sciences, by letter dated 16 Oct. 1884. It was printed in Senate Misc. Doc. No. 82 (serial No. 2345, 49th Congress, 1st session (1886) vol. 4; also as appendix D to the Report of the National Academy of Sciences for 1884 (Government Printing Office,

Washington, D.C., 20 April 1885), p. 33. 4. The NAS committee proposed that the commission include the president of

the National Academy of Sciences; the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; two nongovernment civilian scientists of high reputation appointed by the President of the United States for 6-year terms; one officer of the Corps of Engineers; one Navy professor of mathematics skilled in astronomy (the last two to be designated by the President for 6-year terms); the superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey; the director of the Geological Survey; and the officer in charge of the Meteorological Service. The secretary of the department including the science agencies would be ex officio president of the commission, and the commission would

be attached to the office of the secretary. 5. Senate Rep. No. 1285, 49th Congress, 1st session (8 June 1886), p. 54. 6. See A. Hunter Dupree, Science and the Federal Government (Harvard Univ.

Press, Cambridge, 1957), p. 215. Dupree writes of this period : "In contrast to the glorious and successful defense of the new scientific bureaus, the experts had done a ragged job for a Department of Science. The National Academy had done nothing to push the brainchild of its committee, which

admitted political defeat in advance” (p. 230). 7. Congr. Rec. 92, A14 (1 Feb. 1946). The Luce bill provided for a Secretary

appointed by the President with Senate confirmation, and five Assistant Secretaries, appointed by the President, to head, respectively, the following bureaus: Physics and Mathematical Sciences, Public Health and Social Sciences, Scientific Education and Information, Biological Sciences, and Engineering and Technological Sciences. The Secretary would be empowered to appoint an advisory council of not more than 100 members

representing all branches of science. 8. Sciencethe Endless Frontier, A Report to the President on a Program for

Postwar Scientific Research (July 1945). The report was reprinted by the
National Science Foundation (Government Printing Office, Washington,

D.C., July 1960). 9. Congr. Rec. 93, 10567 (17 Nov. 1947). See Don K. Price, Government and

Science (New York Univ. Press, New York, 1954), p. 48. 10. Science and Public Policy, Report of the President's Scientific Research Board

(Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 4 Oct. 1947), vol. 3, p. 23. 11. Public Law 81-507, 64 Stat. 149 (10 May 1950). 12. Progress Report on Science Programs of the Federal Government, Senate

Rep. No. 2498, 85th Congress, 2d session (9 Sept. 1958), p. 14; Congr. Rec.

105, 1078 (23 Jan. 1959). 13. Public Law 85–567, 72 Stat. 426 (29 July 1958). 14. Killian's address, made on 29 Dec. 1958, was printed in Science Program

86th Congress, Senate Rep. No. 120, 86th Congress, 1st session (23 March

1959), p. 3. 15. D. K. Price, Government and Science (New York Univ. Press, New York,

1954), p. 63. Price was discussing the potential role of NSF as a central

science agency and not specifically a Department of Science. 16. Senate Rep. No. 120, 86th Congress, 1st session (23 March 1959), p. 26.

Berkner's views were set forth in an address, “National Science Policy and the Future," at Johns Hopkins University (16 Dec. 1958), published in the same report, appendix D, p. 110. Brode's address on the same subject as retiring presidnet of the AAAS (28 Dec. 1959) was placed in the Congressional Record, along with press articles and editorials, by Senator Kefauver [Congr. Rec. 106, 615 (18 Jan. 1960]. For additional materials on the pros and cons of a department, see Science and Technology Act of 1968, Analysis and Summary by the Staff of the Senate Committee on Government Oper

ations, Senate Doc. No. 90, 85th Congress, 2d session (April 1958). 17. Senate Rep. No. 120, 86th Congress, 1st session (23 March 1959), p. 29. 18. Create a Department of Science and Technology, hearings before the Sub

committee on Reorganization and International Organizations, Senate Committee on Government Operations, 86th Congress, 1st session, on S. 676 and S. 586 (16–17 April 1959), pt. 1, pp. 47 and 71.

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