« PreviousContinue »
If we accept this difficulty of communications as a central problem, it becomes evident that there are a number of steps which can be taken immediately by the National Science Foundation to improve its relations with the society which supports it. First, I think the Foundation should make a greater effort to identify and publicize its most successful projects in terms which laymen will find interesting and understandable. I believe it is possible to demonstrate that there are now many people in science and engineering whose important contributions are directly attributable to the support of the National Science Foundation. Probably the greatest contribution the Foundation makes is in support of scientific research and development in the colleges which educate men and women who go into industry and commerce, there to produce the high technology products and services which account for our unique standard of living.
The National Science Foundation should be allowed to spend those sums necessary to generate public information materials which will help science writers and editors bridge this different kind of a "technology gap" which separates the scientist/engineer from the layman. I believe the Congress and particularly this Committee, should encourage the Foundation to increase its public information efforts to the extent necessary to inform the public, in depth, of the work in progress, and see that the Foundation's accomplishments—both direct and indirect--are properly credited.
Generally speaking, scientists do not like to do this kind of communicating, and I am sure that people in the Foundation who have a science background are loath to seek public exposure of their work; but I think they should.
Question 2. Has the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques had measurable effects on the management or organization of Federal science activities in your field of interest? Please elaborate.
Answer 2. The activities of science, particularly basic science, do not lend themselves to the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS). It is difficult to obtain a satisfactory measure of performance for such activities. Research is uncertain at best; and even when research is accomplished successfully it is difficult to quantify its contribution in precise terms. For example, are two mathematical hypotheses proved more important than three mathematical hypotheses disproved? This sort of question doesn't have a sensible answer that can be useful in connection with PPBS.
I have a great interest in PPBS from a theoretical point of view. The theoretical work I have done over the past decade on the mathematical techniques of decision making leads me to believe that PPBS is adaptable to some activities, but extremely difficult to apply in others. Where there is a definite output that can be quantified, such as the number of letters sorted per day by a letter sorting system, or the number of photographs produced by a photographic laboratory—in other words, where a fairly regular output can be measured and evaluated-PPBS can be quite useful. Where the output is difficult to measure and evaluate, PPBS is less useful. For example, consider the application of the system to Congress, itself. Obviously, one cannot measure the work of Congress by counting the number of bills that have been passed. In other words, the PPB system cannot readily be applied to creative undertakings. The extreme example that comes to mind is the one in which a group of Chinese poets vowed to contribute to the national effort by increasing substantially the number of lines of poetry they would write in the coming year!
Question 3. Your testimony emphasized the need to formulate a clear-cut statement of Federal goals for science and technology. Whose responsibility should this be and what mechanism would you suggest?
Answer 3. The extremely important task of setting the scientific and technological goals of the nation must lie primarily with the Executive Branch of the Government. Proposals relating to these goals must first be carefully considered by the Office of Science and Technology and presented to the President.
However, I have long urged that these recommendations be formulated in close collaboration with the Congress. In fact, in my testimony before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular affairs on April 28, 1965, relating to the Office of Saline Water, I proposed that the Legislative Branch of Government have its own science and technology advisors. I feel that it is a weakness to have both the Executive and Legislative Branches rely on the same people for advice on scientific and technical factors, and their importance to the nation.
I believe it is necessary to hammer out scientific and technological goals for society through hearings before appropriate Congressional Committees, and through conferences between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government.
The value systems that should be applied to our national goals should reflect the value systems of the people at large, and both branches have a responsibility to make public goals consistent with private goals insofar as possible. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this work. In fact, there are theoretical studies which indicate that one cannot assess group goals by studying individual goals; that is, you cannot accurately predict how a group will behave by studying its individual members.
In summary, I see no substitute for the political process in establishing national goals. The responsibility cannot and must not be delegated to the scientific community; we must have a meaningful collaboration between the scientist and the non-scientist as we seek the optimum use of our scientific and technological resources.
Mr. DADDARIO. I just have one question and then I will send a series of others to you, if I might. You raised a point about managing research and the way it ought to be done. Isn't this in itself a management concept which this committee needs to look into? We have sometime ago examined national laboratories and were concerned about the tight control of the sponsoring agency in the development of its mission objective through that laboratory and the lack of flexibility which exists.
We were taken by the Bell report which states that the managers of some of these laboratories—and I put an emphasis on "some”-ought to have the flexibility, in funding to do other things in that laboratory than in the area of research beyond that which the sponsoring agency would allow it to do.
This in itself is a management concept, is it not?
Mr. DADDARIO. I think it is really what we are looking for. It is not a matter of putting complete controls over everything, but coming to determinations where we might release these controls. As Mr. Waggonner has pointed out, in yet other areas there is a necessity to put our house in better order.
Dr. TRIBUS. I don't know how you regard the need for multiple sources of funding so the man who doesn't hit it off with one agency has someplace else to turn. This was a point I skipped over in my testimony because I gathered from what you have said that it is something to which you have already given your attention.
But I regard it as very important, just out of my own personal experience. I have been involved in five or six activities, each one began by being unwelcome to some sponsor and finding support somewhere else. And I would hate to see this quality disappear from the Federal support of science.
Mr. DADDARIO. Well, Dr. Tribus, thank you ever so much. And we will be sending
you some questions. Dr. TRIBUS. Thank you. Mr. DADDARIO. I think the committee will proceed as far as we can. Mr. Ink and his group may come forward.
Our apologies to you, Mr. Ink. And it might be best if we could proceed and see if we can eliminate the need of having you come back at another time. If you would please introduce the men who are with you, and proceed with your statement directly, or summarize it, however you like.
STATEMENT OF DWIGHT INK, DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE MANAGE
MENT, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET; ACCOMPANIED BY JACK YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF ECONOMICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY DIVISION, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET; HUGH LOWETH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (GENERAL SCIENCE), ECONOMICS; AND CLIFFORD BERG, MANAGEMENT ANALYST
Mr. Ink. Yes, sir; with me at the table Mr. Jack Young, who is the Director of the Economics, Science, and Technology Division in the Bureau of the Budget, which is concerned with the major part of the scientific part of the budget, Clifford L. Berg, management analyst, Office of Executive Management, and Hugh F. Loweth, Assistant Director (General Science), Economics, Science, and Technology Division.
Mr. Chairman, in view of the hour, if you would prefer, I would be happy to just touch on several of the key points and make ourselves available for questions.
Mr. DADDARIO. That will be fine, and without objection your whole statement will be put in the record and you will have an opportunity to review it and correct the record.
(Mr. Dwight Ink's prepared statement follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. DWIGHT INK
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the issues raised in the report recently released entitled “Centralization of Federal Science Activities.” In a matter as complex as the organization of the Federal Government for the support and conduct of research, development and graduate education, involving as it does numerous questions concerning general organization of the Federal Government, “overview hearings" like these serve a very useful purpose in helping to clarify the underlying issues.
Typically in government, new programs are initiated in response to a particular need of a particular time, and seldom in relation to some general organizational scheme. Over an extended period, however, the cumulative effect of numerous earlier decisions forces major reorganization--because old needs have been met, new needs require attention, and administrative mechanisms must be realigned to serve new or modified objectives.
This Administration, as you know, is concerned with improving the organization of the Federal Government in order that the public receive the maximum benefit possible from Federally administered programs. In April, the President announced the creation of the Advisory Council on Executive Organization. The mandate of the Council, as set forth by the President in his announcement, was to consider:
"(1) the Organization of the executive branch as a whole in light of today's changing requirements of government; (2) solutions to organizational problems which arise from among the 150-plus departments, offices, agencies, and other separate executive organizational units; and (3) the organizational relationships of the Federal Government to States and cities in carrying out the many domestic programs in which the Federal Govern
ment is involved." In specific reference to the organization of Federal science activities, the President's Advisory Council has been asked to review the proposal made by the Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources that a new Federal agency be created—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency-in the context of broader Federal organizational requirements. The hearings by this Committee should be of great interest to the Advisory Council, as well as to the Congress and the public, as it addresses matters related to Federal science organization.
Now, let me make some general comments on some of the issues raised by the report. First, organizational change is not an end in itself, but a means to improve the achievement of particular program objectives. All proposals for organizational change, consequently, must confront the question "Organization for what?” This, I infer from your preface to the report, Mr. Chairman, is one reason for your expressed interest in a "further elucidation of the issues.” In this regard, let me compliment you on the effort to focus on underlying issues and problems, and not simply on reorganization itself.
In matters pertaining to organizational change, it is, obviously, seldom, if ever, the case that any given organizational pattern is ideal. There is, moreover, a widesperad recognition that the management of resources and people is usually the major determinant of success, regardless of organizational pattern.
Finally, I would like to add the caveat that the creation of large government organizations often tends to reduce flexibility in program management and can tend to stifle creative science. Organizational layering, administrative complexity, and a new order of complication in decision-making, all seem to be frequent by-products of large organizations.
The report describes the present pattern of Federal science organization as "diffuse," since it consists of a number of organizations serving a variety of purposes. These various purposes, by and large, include (a) a common concern among agencies with the support of university research and related graduate education as well as (b) unique concerns within agencies which link research and development efforts to their statutory missions. While we do not pretend to understand all the implications of centralization represented by the National Institutes of Research and Advanced Studies prototype organization, we believe that consolidations of this nature will have to trade-off some expected gain in efficiency in pursuit of common objectives against some expected loss in pursuit of unique objectives. There are also administrative problems of a large agency I mentoned earlier.
Second, there are a number of important issues raised by the report which, in our judgment, are not especially amenable to solution through organizational change. For instance, the report reflects considerable concern with the adequacy of funding for academic science, particularly by the National Science Foundation. But there is no guarantee that executive branch reorganization would greatly change the tendency of the Congress to appropriate less funds for the NSF than the President's annual budget request.
Third, changes in Federal science organization are not apt to change the underlying problems of establishing priorities in the short run. At the level of establishing national priorities, for example, the Federal budget—which often constitutes the best statement of priorities available—will always reflect the constraints imposed by the general state of the economy, and will always involve a great deal of give and take among the agencies, the White House and the Executive Office, the authorization committees, the appropriations sub-committees, and the general public.
We are seeking to improve the decision-making processes of the Executive branch through the application of planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques in the Federal Government. But this is more of a change in process than an organizational change, even though it may raise organizational considerations. We are concerned about the priority for research, but necessarily must view research in relation to other national priorities. Specifically, though, in relation to the priorities within Federal research and development, the Bureau asked the Office of Science and Technology early this summer to review these priorities in preparation for the Fiscal 1971 budget, and this review is now underway.
With respect to establishing priorities within research, questions continue to arise regarding the allocation of resources among fields of research, among the various programs for supporting research and graduate education, and among the various types of institutional performers. These questions continue to arise because of some vexing characteristics of public programs in science. These problems include: (1) the same program often serves several objectives, and it is not easy, under present arrangements to identify most programs with a single, explicit objective; (2) it is difficult to measure the benefit of any given research program; and (3) experts in any given area tend to be partisans for that area,
but often are unwilling to sit in judgment on other areas, thus complicating the weighing of priorities. In all likelihood, the existing means of setting priorities will continue to be employed for some time. But, clearly, we must and will continue to seek improvement.
There are several more specific issues, however, raised by the report on which I would like to comment briefly. First, there is widsepread and increasing con-cern with insuring that the research which is supported be relevant to the problems of society. This is a rather general concern encompassing such diverse aspects of the problem as the rapid exploitation of new and promising fields of science, the support of cross-cutting interdisciplinary research efforts, and the generalized concern with the application of R&D to social purposes.
Often in the past, many have spoken primarily of the output of science as an input to technology. Actually, as most of us know, the facts are much more complicated. There might be said to be three streams of activity, having a variety. of interactions within and among themselves, about which we must be concerned: (1) the scientific body of knowledge, (2) the technological state of the art, and (3) the practical utilization of science and technology. The complex interactions among these streams of activity do not correspond to the simple popular notion that science always leads directly to technology and technology to utilization. The interactions vary, and they may well be "weak interactions" rather than “strong interactions." We are only now beginning to understand their complexity. All of which is to say that our knowledge of how to apply research and development to some of the problems of society is rather limited.
A general conclusion which we draw that bears upon the question of the organization of Federal agencies for science, is this: the interactions among science, technology, and utilization are enhanced when the agency with primary responsibility for utilization of the results of R&D has direct responsibility for the support of such R&D. Let me restate the point: mission research should generally not be separated from mission agencies if R&D programs are to contribute effectively to the fulfillment of the given mission. This has been the experience with the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Atomic Energy Commission in the recent past, and we expect it to be the case with regard to the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Justice in the near future.
Now I would like to turn to the question of utilization of Federal laboratories. Your subcommittee has already studied this problem in some detail and recognizes it complexities. In general, there are several approaches that have been suggested for achieving better utilization of the resource now associated with our Federal laboratories. Let me mention two alternatives, but emphasize that there are other approaches that also merit consideration.
One approach is to broaden the charter of existing multi-discipline laboratories, both in-house and contractor-operated laboratories, and provide laboratory management with funds that can be used to pursue activities in a variety of areas of high national priority. In this way, the activities and resources of existing organizations could be redirected form time to time to newer and higher priority missions.
Another approach is to reduce the Federal resources being devoted to the support of existing laboratories that are working in areas of lower priority, and create new institutional arrangements for new problems. Agencies responsible for higher priority problem areas, of course, would have to be provided with funds to attract the people, build the teams and the institutional arrangements that are appropriate for addressing the new problems. The establishment of new laboratories could be facilitated by the release of funds from laboratories closed or curtailed, and by the pool of skilled personnel thereby made available.
Obviously, there are merits and drawbacks associated with both approaches and neither will work in all situations. The first approach, for example, may gain some advantage from being able to use an existing organization to the extent that there are elements of that structure that otherwise would have to be duplicated in a new organization. It also avoids the problems and expenses of sudden curtailment or termination of activities and the cost of establishing new institutions. On the other hand, characteristics of the personnel in an