Page images

19. Establishment of a Commission on a Department of Science and Technology,

Senate Rep. No. 408 (18 June 1959), p. 6. 20. Ann. Amer. Acad. Polit. Soc. Sci. (Jan. 1960), p. 27; Senator Humphrey

placed this article in the Congressional Record [106, 5235 (10 March

1960)). 21. Organizing for National Security: Science Organization and the President's

Office, staff study by the Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery,
Senate Committee on Government Operations, 87th Congress, 1st session

(committee print, 14 June 1961), p. 1. 22. House Doe. 372, 87th Congress, 2d session (29 March 1962). 23. Senator Humphrey placed an excerpt from the Stover report in the Con

gressional Record [108, 11822 (27 June 1962)]. A statement by Stover supporting the commission proposal was printed in Establishment of a Commission on Science and Technology, Senate Rep. No. 1828, 87th Congress, 2d session (6 Aug. 1962), p. 50. The report The Government of Science proposed that the Department of Science and Technology absorb the activities of NSF, PSAC and FCST, along with the Weather Bureau, National Bureau of Standards, Office of Saline Water, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Navy Hydrographic Office, Naval Observatory, portions of the Smithsonian's research work, and the Antarctic programs of the Navy and NSF. Larger agencies such as NASA and NIH were cited as candidates for inclusion, though AEC was excluded on the ground that its size and operational char

acter could overwhelm the new department. 24. Create a Commission on Science and Technology, hearings before the Senate

Committee on Government Operations, 87th Congress, 2d session, on S. 2771 (24 July 1962), pt. 2; Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1962, hearings before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, 87th Congress, 2d session (17 April 1962). Jerome B. Wiesner wrote later: "Possibly the most important consequence of providing a statutory basis for the scientific activities in the Executive Office of the President is that the Director may now appear before Congress to explain, when possible, the Government-wide views of activities and problems" [Where Science

and Politics Jeet (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1965), p. 47]. 25. Systems Development and Management, hearings before the Military Opera

tion Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, 87th

Congress, 2d session (1 July 1962), pt. 1, p. 156. 26. Establishment of a Commission on Science and Technology, Senate Rep. No.

1828, 87th Congress, 2d session (6 Aug. 1962). 27. Congr. Rec. 108, 15968 (8 Aug. 1962). 28. Senator McClellan placed excerpts from the Wiesner testimony in the Con

gressional Record on two separate occasions [109, 2395 (18 Feb. 1963) and ibid. (23 May 1963), p. 9299]. It was also carried in the committee report

cited below (29). 29. Establishment of a Commission on Science and Technology, Senate Rep. No.

16, 81st Congress, 1st session (4 March 1963). 30. Congr. Rec. 109, 3808 (8 March 1963). In remarks accompanying the bill

Senator Humphrey said an independent "Hoover-type" commission was needed to (i) counterbalance the exceutive's excessive dependance on a small in-group of scientists for policy advice and program evaluation ; (ii) review, with the aim to improve, the activities of the NAS-NRC as well as those of the government agencies; and (iii) examine federal organiza

tion for information retrieval. 31. Referring the bills to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics

signified a change in jurisdictional policy. Heretofore such bills had been referred to the House Committee on Government Operations, which gen

erally has jurisdiction over organization matters. 32. National Goals and Policies. House Rep. No. 1941, 80th Congress, 2d session

(29 Dec. 1964), p. 49. The Select Committee expired with the 88th Congress on 3 Jan. 1965. In accordance with one of its recommendations, a Subcommittee on Research and Technical Programs was established within the House Committee on Government Operations. This subcommittee chaired by Representative Reuss, was in existence through the end of the 90th

Congress. 33. R. Lapp, The New Priesthood (Harper & Row, New York, 1965), p. 204. Lapp

proposed that the Department of Science make basic research grants (on a lump-sum basis) ; manage the government laboratories ; absorb all or part of the functions of OST, PSAC, and FC'ST; and take over the functions of

the AEC (civilian part), NSF, ONR, Office of Saline Water, National

Bureau of Standards, and the Weather Bureau. 34. Establish a Commission on the Organization and Management of the Execu

tive Branch, hearings before the Subcommittee on Executive Reorganization of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, 90th Congress, 2d session (23 Jan. 1968), p. 58. Hollomon proposed that the Department of Science and Technology include the NSF, NASA, ESSA, National Bureau of Standards, Geological Survey, Census Bureau "and perhaps parts of

NIH and the AEC.” 35. D. F. Hornig, remarks as AAAS Meeting, Dallas, Texas (29 Dec. 1968). 36. Senate Misc. Doc. No. 82 (serial No. 2345), 49th Congress, 1st session (1886),

vol. 4, p. 66. 37. The usual text for this organizational approach is the report of the First

Hoover Commission, “General Management of the Executive Branch" (Feb. 1949), which recommended that: “The numerous agencies of the executive branch must be groupod into departments as nearly as possible by major purposes in order to give a coherent mission to each Department” (p. 34).

Senator Humphrey quoted this recommendation in his Annals article (20). 38. The Department of Housing and Urban Development actually was estab

lished during the Johnson Administration, although President Kennedy pressed for its creation from the beginning of his administration. The stumbling block to congressional acceptance was President Kennedy's announced intention to appoint Robert C. Weaver as Secretary of the new department. Similarly, congressional opposition to a putative department head (Oscar R. Ewing) prevented President Truman from getting the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which was created in

the Eisenhower Administration. 39. President Nixon announced the appointment of an Advisory Council on Ex

ecutive Organization on 5 April 1969. The members are: Roy L. Ash (chairman), president of Litton Industries, Inc.; George Baker, dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University; John B. Connally, former governor of Texas; Frederick R. Kappel, chairman of the executive committee, American Telephone and Telegraph Com

pany; and Richard M. Paget, member of Cresap, McCormick and Paget. 40. Lapp (33, p. 206) proposed that the AEC's nuclear production facilities be

mothballed in part and the remainder transferred to the Department of Defense. Representative Craig Hosmer, in an address "The Science Establishment: Where Is It Headed ?” [Cong. Rec. (6 March 1968), p. E1606] posed the AEC problem in terms of diversification or decline: “Unless AEC's charter is revised to give it a responsibility to conduct research for other government agencies, it would seem that some of these facilities and programs would be better off under an organization more fundamentally

oriented toward basic research, such as the National Science Foundation." 41. R. E. Miles, Jr., Public Admin. Rev. 27, 1 (March 1967). Text included in

hearings before the Subcommittee on Executive Reorganization, Senate Committee on Government Operations, 90th Congress, 2d session (23 Jan.

1968), p. 115. 42. Public Law 90–407, 82 Stat. 360 (18 July 1968). 43. Public Law 85–454, 80 Stat. 203 (17 June 1966). See also Public Law 90–212,

81 Stat. 780 (2 Jan. 1968). 44. Our Nation and the Sea, Report of the Commission on Marine Science, Engi

neering and Resources (9 Jan. 1969 preprint), p. 7. 45. “... The easy answer to all problems in Government, scientific and non

scientific, seems to be to move them closer to the President. I don't think that tenable for all things he is already overburdened” [D. F. Honig

(35)). 46. State of the Union Message, House Doc. No. 1, 90th Congress, 1st session

(19 Jan. 1967), p. 3. 47. A current example of a government laboratory with diversified scientific ca

pabilities and no obvious place to go upon withdrawal of military sponsorship is the Navy Radiological Defense Laboratory. It is slated for closure by the end of this year, even though its resources could be readily adapted to important research in the civil sector. The proposed closure of NRDL also illustrates the poor planning not infrequently found in government. Six months ago a $6-million cyclotron was installed for special re

search in biomedical effects of radiation. 48. The views expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of any

member of the Congress.




(By Ralph E. Lapp)


If the author's thesis that the Congress is in a supine position with respect to the onrush of science and technology is accepted, then it becomes clear that the real decision-making takes place elsewhere in government. The location of the center of gravity on R&D decision-making was mainly in the Pentagon before Sputnik. After the Soviet success in 1957 more and more of the decisions involving research and development centered in the White House. President Eisenhower formalized a science advisory mechanism which has since expanded into a weighty apparatus in the Executive Office. Thus scientists have played a greater advisory role in decisions affecting the nation's welfare, although on some issues their advice has been disregarded.

The determinative postwar factor in the evolution of U.S. research and development was the Cold War. The nation's concern for its security and the potential of modern technology caused most of the total R&D funds to be dedicated to defense. For example, in the first post-Sputnik budget, the total federal outlays for nonsecurity research and development amounted to less than one-eighth of the $7.1 billion. One might quibble over whether NASA funds were primarily to reassure the U.S. sense of security ; I would resolve the issue by describing this as money spent for “flag science.” Although many legislators voted for NASA funds thinking that they would bear military rewards, it became evident that space was to be an area of status-seeking.

Million Defense Department--

$5,237 Atomic Energy Commission.

92.5 National Aeronautics and Space Administration

300 Health, Education, and Welfare.

279 Agriculture

139 National Science Foundation.

69 Interior Department.

68 Commerce

30 All other..




(i.e., 7.122 billions) The above budget then describes the profile of U.S. research and development as funded by federal agencies shortly after the scientists ascended to advisory power in the White House. It is provocative to jump ahead to the 1966 fiscal budget and note how the profile has been altered in a span of seven years. In this way we may observe the gross changes in federal spending which surely


point to policy changes, leaving aside for the moment the influence of science advice. The new order of federal R & D spending is :

Million Department of Defense..

$ 6,875.3 National Aeronautics and Space Administration

5,100.0 Atomic Energy Commission--

1,292.2 Health, Education, and Welfare-

942.0 National Science Foundation --

266.0 Agriculture

256.0 Interior

129.0 Commerce

68.1 All other-


Total (including additional facilities).

15,444.2 The most prominent feature of this budget, apart from its total, is the NASA appropriation. As already explained, this budget item was primarily a Presidential innovation and cannot be ascribed to a consensus of White House science advisers. Without the federal outlay for space the total would have been about $10 billion, which would represent less than a doubling in seven years. This rate of spending actually represents a slowdown as compared with earlier years when the doubling time was roughly four years. As we have seen, this paring back of R & D appropriations coincided with closer congressional scrutiny of research; the size of R & D funds clearly caused Congressmen to begin assessing science and technology in the light of other expenditures.

On the face of it, the two most obvious features of the R & D budget after scientists trooped to the White House to act in advisory roles were contradictions—a space program not of their choosing and a cutback in R & D expansion. But the stark statistics conceal the innumerable tugging and pulling of forces operating at many levels within the officialdom of government. For example, R & D defense expenditures are down for fiscal year 1966 as compared to preceding years. This reflects not just a thaw in the Cold War but a change in philosophy of the Defense Department in which key scientists were highly influential, both within government and without. The sufficiency and redundancy of strategic weapons systems allowed for cutbacks.

Probably this comparison of the federal R & D budget profile is too harsh a criterion to apply to the influence of scientists at the White House level. As the latest added ingredient of policymaking, science advice will probably take longer to evaluate and it may manifest itself in subtler ways than by showing up as budgetary changes. Nonetheless, the most effective means of control of R & D is at the budgetary level ; it is here that decisionmaking is of guillotine nature. Science advisers may give lofty advice and complex recommendations, but in the end the Bureau of the Budget must convert the words into deeds—into approval or disapproval of project or program funds requested by a government agency.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the White House science advisers is difficult because of the low visibility of the work of the various individuals and groups attached to the Executive Office in an advisory capacity. For example, the White House does not issue any annual report on the status of science and technology. Presidential advisers are very discreet in exposing controversial R & D issues to the view of outsiders. Task force reports are rarely published; even the names of consultants are held confidential. Furthermore, the President's science adviser serves a relatively short term of office and each one has his own method of dealing with problems. Since the White House represents a Grand Junction where the pathways of political power intersect, it is difficult to separate out the causative factors in decisions made by the President on matters scientific or technical.

Then, too, the advice-taker must be considered as preponderantly more significant at the White House level than the purveyor of recommendations. The President may or may not take to heart scientific advice. He may find the scientists' jargon and syntax alien to his own as President Truman did when he was briefed in the late summer of 1949 on Joe I, the first Soviet nuclear test. A special group of eminent scientists transmitted and tried to translate the pertinent detection data to the President but there was a real gap between the parties. When Mr. Truman left office he expressed himself publicly as doubting the validity of the Soviet test. This was bewildering to scientists who examined the data and knew that it constituted proof of the Soviet nuclear bomb.

There is no need to detail the pre-Sputnik arrangements for injecting R & D advice into the Executive Office. Vannevar Bush's relations to Roosevelt were of an ad hoc nature. Truman had Mr. John R. Steelman, the economist-sociologist, as a White House counselor but he was not regarded as a powerhouse for science. Korea served to hoist some warning flags that science might need more highlevel attention and Truman established a Science Advisory Committee in 1951 under the Office of Defense Mobilization. But he had no official science adviser and no eminent scientist could claim a close relationship to him. Science was still not yet within the orbit of Presidential power.

It was during Eisenhower's second term that the shock wave of scientific events crashed down upon the White House and produced visible changes in the science advisory system there. A very large segment of the scientific community felt that a shake-up was long overdue and they welcomed the impact of Sputnik upon political affairs. Many scientists deeply resented the Eisenhower regime's blindness of the affairs of sciences which were discovered by security excesses, the Openheimer disgrace, the fallout scandal, the nuclear test issue, and a lack of sympathy for intellectualism. Although funds for R & D increased sharply under Eisenhower, they were aimed in the direction of a weapons culture, and the climate for science itself was chill.

The Soviet success with ballistic missiles shocked the American people and politicians who had lulled themselves into a reveire that the United States was the chosen land for scientific accomplishments. Although President Eisenhower personally downgraded the significance of Soviet technological triumphs, he was forced to give ground. In a nationwide television address on November 7, 1957, on the heels of Sputnik II and a wave of publicity over the orbiting of Laika, a dog, the President revealed :

I have created the office of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. This man, who will be aided by a staff of scientists and a strong advisory group of outstanding experts reporting to him and to me, will have the active responsibility of helping me follow through on the program of scientific improvement of our defenses.

It is significant that this new office was oriented along defense needs. James R. Killian, president of the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology, was named as Eisenhower's science adviser. Not a scientist himself, Killian brought to the post a thorough knowledge of federal bureaucracy and a wide acquaintance with scientists and technologists.

The scientific experts mentioned by Eisenhower were organized in the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) and they were headed by Killian. The committee included on its initial roster the following: Robert F. Bacher, physics professor, California Institute of Technology; William 0. Baker, vice president, Bell Telephone Laboratories; Lloyd V. Berkner, president, Associated Universities: Hans A. Bethe, physicis professor, Cornell University ; Detley W. Bronk, president, National Academy of Sciences; James H. Doolittle, Lt. Gen., vice president, Shell Oil Company; James B. Fisk, vice president, Bell Telephone Laboratories; Caryl P. Haskins, president Carnegie Institution of Washington ; George B. Kistiakowsky, chemistry professor, Harvard University ; Edwin H. Land, president, Polaroid Corporation; Edward M. Purcell, physics professor, Harvard University; Isidor I. Rabi, physics professor, Columbia University ; H. P. Robertson, physics professor, California Institute of Technology ; Jerome B. Weisner, director, Electronics Research Laboratory, M.I.T.; Jerrold R. Zacharis, physics professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ; Herbert York, chief scientist, Department of Defense.

About half of the members could be called active in research and two-thirds confined their specialization to the physical sciences. Scientists on the PSAC task force generally represented two geographic areas, northeastern United States, especially Boston, and California.

It will be recalled that President Eisenhower suffered a stroke in November 1957. By February 4. 1958, he had recovered sufficiently to honor scientists at a White House dinner party. Some forty-nine couples, including many high-ranking officers, were feted at a white-tie-and-tails dinner which displayed gold service at the table and four wines with appropriate courses. The scientists had assumed new social status, but it remained to be seen how they would fare as advicegivers and decision-makers.

Killian and his cohorts faced a wide variety of problems in 1958_priority items in defense, a space program, educational demands for the future supply of scientists and engineers, “ugly ducklings” like the nuclear airplane and the nuclear rocket, coordination of federal R & D, fallout, and nuclear test policy. The latter,

« PreviousContinue »