« PreviousContinue »
(1) It must emphasize the chain of connections, and not the disconnections, between long-range basic research and applied science generally, both in the interest of national security and of the allevi. ation of the social and medical problems which beset mankind. The National Institutes of Health have a more fortunate tradition of respecting basic research, applied research and their connections than does the National Science Foundation. Therefore, it has on this count earned the prototype position for a National Institute of Research and Advanced Studies.
(2) The new arrangement must take account of the humanities and social sciences as well as the physical and biological sciences. The fields conventionally outside the definition of science must be included, and must partake of the same rationale as makes Government support of any kind of science possible. The humanities and certain parts of the social sciences cannot effectively justify themselves by an argument of indirect practicality, and certain other parts of the social sciences cannot by any definition be separated from applications. Therefore the Government must come to see strong and effective intellectual activity regardless of field as a national necessity and a bulwark for free universities. The NIRAS model certainly recognizes this dimension.
(3) The new arrangement must recognize the connection of research and education in all fields more effectively than any present agency. It is all too possible to conceive of a divorce between research and university education, with high level scholarship retreating into protected research institutes and higher education becoming a kind of indoctrination into a permissive and disorganized life for the students. Britain in the 19th century had most of its scholarship outside the universities, but the investment and talent now on American campuses makes the prospect of such a divorce the specter of a national disaster.
(4) The new arrangement must not be utterly dependent on the univerities for the performance of research. Without abandoning university research, the Government must be able to shift activities out of the university orbit when they can be better done elsewhere. For instance, the in-house capability of the National Institutes of Health and the historic strength of the Government’s bureaus devoted to environmental studies should be available as options to NIRAS for some lines of research. The creation of NIRAS—someone might help me with a word to call this thing. How are you pronouncing it around the committee?
Mr. DADDARIO. We haven't reached that point.
Dr. DUPREE (continuing). Would make possible the use of some inhouse research and many of the resources of the national laboratories without changing the NSF from a grantmaking agency:
The NIRAS model has more features to commend it and fewer serious flaws than any scheme of centralization put forward in recent years. Some questions remain with answers unclear, for instance how large fragments of the AEC would be digested while NASA remained intact on the outside. Yet these important questions can be ironed out. The crucial ingredient would be the policy planning capability available to the administrator. To develop it would not be easy. To fail to develop it would leave NIRAS a paper organization. The
position of the administrator would be somewhat analogous to that of the Secretary of Defense, who has had to develop a policy capability independent of his component departments.
While widespread changes in the interralated system are clearly going on at present, and we shall undoubtedly see fundamental changes both of institutions and procedure, some instruction may be had from the nonrevolutionary origin of the Government-science partnership. It was adapted to American democracy as it grew up, and if it remains adapted to American democracy in the large as it changes, the resulting system can be respectful of scientific community and its values at the same time it moves to respond to the needs of society. Internal criteria for choice can be applied by scientists who are in a position to judge their own problems and opportunities, but the best source for external critera for scientific choice still remains the democratic institutions of American society.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
An excellent and provocative statement. Gentlemen, I had determined before you all got here that we would listen to all the testimony before getting to the questions. We will therefore proceed with Dr. Reagan, and followed by Mr. Price.
Dr. REAGAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I may, I will submit the statement for the record and summarize and paraphrase it at this time.
(Prepared statement of Dr. Michael D. Reagan is as follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL D. REAGAN
I appreciate, Mr. Chairman, the opportunity to participate in these significant hearings on the vital question of centralization of Federal science activities. These activities, and organizations for dealing with them, have grown with extreme rapidity in recent years, but in piece-meal fashion. It is clearly time to take another look at the overall structure, to consider whether some consolidation and rationalization may not be possible, especially now that the R&D budget has (at least temporarily) leveled off and the priority problems are becoming more severe.
First, let me compliment Mr. Richard A. Carpenter and his associates in the Science Policy Research Division for their fine background paper. Because that document lays out the existing range of arguments pro and con centralization such complete fashion, I will not dwell on general themes, but will immediately sketch my particular ideas regarding the need for and appropriate organizational form of, a Department of Research and Higher Education. This is not to make a claim that my proposal is the answer, but only that I hope it will serve to provoke further thought and discussion.
The proper basis for a department of science, it seems to me, does not lie in the arguments used in the late 1950s—to achieve overall science policy coordination. Despite the interesting argument of Herbert Roback (Science, 4 July 1969), I would contend that that job can only be done at the presidential level. OST's functions cannot be transferred to a department. Government-wide agreement on the premises of policy in any given area is almost a will-o'-the-wisp in any case, but to the extent that it can be achieved at all, it is only through the imposition of presidential-level persuasion, not by the unsanctioned pleas of one department on the same level as the others it is attempting to coordinate.
Rather, the clearest case for centralization at the present time lies in the partial area of basic research and agency linkages with higher education institutions. Here there are a definable scope and an implicit unity of function and purpose that can provide the prerequisite common premises.
Let me recite some of the reasons why a Department of Research and Higher Education makes sense as a partial consolidation.
1. There is a discernible set of organizational purposes: to support the healthy development of basic research (in the humanities and the arts, as well as in science), to promote the education of future researchers and faculty members, and to provide a major share of funds for the health of the higher education institutions through which these other objectives are largely pursued.
2. The larger the share of an activity accounted for by a single agency, the better are the chances that a rational ordering of inter-field, inter-program priorities will be established. Further, the more comprehensive an agency, the better that agency can defend its program area politically, in the competition for funds and a place in the sun. And the more significant the agency in its area, the better the quality of program managers who can be attracted to the personnel roster.
3. It is a matter of high priority that we slow down the proliferation of agencies focusing on special areas of science. Instead of adding NOAA to NASA, and then an environmental science agency, and then, projecting ahead, an agency focusing on bio-political problems, we should have a Department of Science that can serve as a home for the rational development of emerging fields. As Don K. Price has emphasized, science is not a governmental purpose_except in the case of the NSF mandate to promote a healthy basic research base. At least when a new field is not yet ready for exploitation in serving the missions of operating agencies, it is better cultured in a department covering several areas, so that it does not become a precious pet on its own.
4. Basic research and higher education are inextricably linked. This is a widely accepted fact, but government organization does not yet reflect it. Half of NSF's budget goes for education, not research as such; and almost all NSF research funds constitute back-door support for graduate education. On the other hand, NDEA fellowships and other higher education activities of the Office of Education now give that agency, too, a major role in university development. NIH, although focused by purpose upon health, plays so large a role in support of university research that it, too, has to be brought into the picture as an educational agency. Additionally, NASA and AEC have had major fellowship programs of their own, and DOD, under a Presidential memorandum of September, 1965, has inaugurated in Project THEMIS a major new instrument of institutional support for university groups. From the viewpoint of the universities, it is great to have so much support. It is most unfortunate, to say the least, that this support takes such a variety of forms as to require complex bureaucracies on the campuses to keep track of the myriad requirements. And it is tragic that this country has to use the Department of Defense to provide higher education support. Rationalization of higher education support, both in terms of research grants and direct educational aid, such as fellowships, is badly needed, and would constitute a major function of the proposed Department.
5. Similarly, although it would not be appropriate to pull all mission-oriented research out of the line departments, there is a greater fragmentation of basic research that is necessary or desirable. Given congressional willingness to transfer the tab from one agency to another, much basic research now in missionoriented agencies could and should be shifted to the Department of Research and Higher Education (DRHE). Partly this should be accomplished by outright takeovers—say the high-energy physics program from AEC—and partly also by the mission agencies obtaining their own research appropriations, but tasking DRHE with administering much of their extra-mural basic research.
Such consolidation would give DRHE a significant fraction of federal basic research (which NSF does not yet have), enabling it to be a much stronger spokesman, as well as a "balance wheel," as has been so often proposed in recent years. It would also make it possible to establish broader programs in each field, thus improving the potential for better priority evaluations among competing proposals. A broader research perspective in a single agency will mean a better mode of research planning.
6. Another major need, which DRHE can help meet, is for a common framework for federal support of science, social science, the arts and the humanities. The Federal government is now not just the patron of science, but the patron of research-in all disciplines. Although I would have some concern about the humanities and social sciences being swallowed up in a combined department (and have for that reason earlier supported Senator Fred Harris' proposed National Foundation for the Social Sciences as an entity separate from NSF). I think that under the DRHE concept the advantages outweigh the dangers. For if the Department is
as broad in scope as I would like to see it, there is no reason in the world why the Secretary need always be a physical scientist. In fact, it would be a very healthy development-even an educational one--for scientists to have to make their case in an agency directed by someone who is not himself a physical scientist but who is conversant with basic research in some area.
As federal support for social science and the arts and humanities burgeonsit is bound to do so in the next few years--common principles will have to be developed for equitable and rational allocation of resources among and between these major areas. A single agency would be able to avoid a narrow perspective on each. The effort at consolidation would be messy, perhaps, but it would be messy, perhaps, but it would be productive of a fruitful inter-field dialogue. In general, the public interest is always advanced when narrow interests have to be weighed in a broader context than they provide in themselves so that policy choices cannot be dictated by too narrow a perspective,
For all of these reasons and more I would appeal for serious consideration of a Department of Research and Higher Education.
The initial components of such a department would include NSF, the National Bureau of Standards, the Environmental Science Services Administration, the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, a distinct social science bureau, the Geological Survey, perhaps the residue of a dismantled AEC, perhaps NIH-plus tasked research and administration of fellowship programs funded by such operating agencies as NASA and DOD. I would not immediately include NASA on the practical ground that it would tend to "swamp" the smaller and less hardware-oriented components. The general criterion would be to include as much basic research, and as many technique-oriented units (e.g., AEC), as possible without unduly disturbing research that really is intimately related to agency missions. But in ONR and other places, there is a good deal of extramural research of a rather non-programmatic kind that could be handled through DRHE with no loss of essential relevance.
Parenthetically, I would hazard the personal view that such an amalgamation would be very healthy for the pure research commuinty and for NSF: they have been living too unrealistic a life, through NSF's mistaken notions of "independence” from politics. Independence from partisanship is of course to be desired ; but independence from the political purposes of the government (which is close to what NSF's clientele have demanded) is both wrong and-as NSF has discovered in the past two appropriations seasons—ineffective even for serving the special interests of scientists.
Since what the Executive puts together the Congress sometimes tears asunder, centralization of research and higher education in administrative terms needs to be accompanied by centralization and consolidation on the legislative side. Hopefully, some of this would occur automatically-if DRHE were given its annual authorizations through the House Science Committee and the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (which should in any case have its jurisdiction broadened to equal that of its House counterpart). All of science and technologly, especially the latter, cannot be placed in a single jurisdiction in the legislature any more than in the Executive; but a considerable rationalization of jurisdictions is called for. However, I will forebear trying to tell the best-informed committee of the Congress on science matters just what is needed in this area !
Although we think of centralization largely in terms of organizational structure, that is not the only dimension. Even more basic is the question of the premises that underly the organizational forms, and the Congress can play an essential role here in providing an overall rationale to guide all federal agencies involved in science. It can do this through a declaration of purpose, and by a requirement of an annual President-level report on science and technology.
These ideas are, I know, familiar to members of this committtee, so I need not dwell on them in detail. I do want to point out that a legislative frame of reference is, however, presently lacking and badly needed. And I believe that Federal science affairs have now sufficiently "shaken down” so that it should be possible to come up with such a frame of reference, to act as a guideline for all science affairs.
There is one further point I would make, of a rather speculative nature. It is that the proposed Department should have an applied science division as one of the major components.
The purpose is not to duplicate or supersede the applied science tied directly ito on-going agency missions, but (a) to create a locus for the fundamental exploration of the basic-applied research relationship, and (b) to engage in and sponsor exploratory applied research in areas not yet "ripe" for mission-oriented agency development.
Postwar science policy has largely been premised on the basic researchers' feeling that all that needs to be done is to ensure sufficient support for a vigorous basic research effort. Then the “bank” will be full, and applied science and engineering development can draw on the bank at will. The purists have wanted to assume that the linkage was automatic and required no special effort, for, ideologically, they did not want to be "sullied" by having to deal with the applied science relationship. That view is no longer tenable. Both Congress and the Executive are finally, insisting, as they should have done all along, that explicit efforts be made to establish "payoff” from the basic research whenever possible-former President Johnson's, remarks about NIH a couple of years ago being a case in point. Although many university scientists would like it otherwise, the fact is that public patronage of science is (from the public, taxpaying viewpoint) a matter of practical utility-not of aesthetics or sciencefor-science's sake.
The problem is, however, that even when we want to maximize payoffs, we don't know much about the general processes as yet. Two recent studies have attempted to explore the lines of relationship by tracing back technological developments to their basic science origins (the DOD's Project Hindsight and NSF's Project Traces), and this is useful-although, unfortunately, both reports were subjected to somewhat extraneous reactions revolving around whether they “proved" or "disproved' 'the value of basic research. Occasional perceptive essays have been done on the relationship (I think of pieces by Derek J. DeSolla Price and Hendrik W. Bode), but I have the impression (which may be largely out of my own ignorance) that a great deal remains to be done if public utilization of basic research is to be maximized.
That the research-technology linkage is exploitable through specific social mechanisms would seem to be indicated by the history of agricultural productivity in the United States. The social invention of federally-supported research in land-grant colleges, combined with the extension service, has made agriculture the economic sector of most rapidly rising productivity. From what I have been able to glean concerning this, the development of an extremely fruitful relationship of symbiosis between basic and applied research in the Schools of Agriculture may be hypothesized to play a large role. The question is: can we work out equivalent mechanisms in the non-agriculture civilian technology sector? The State Technical Services Act is apparently an effort to build on the analogy, but perhaps without as yet a sufficient basis of understanding of the processes involved to warrant much hopefulness for its success.
The Daddario amendments to the National Science Foundation Act created an explicit authority for NSF to concern itself with applied sciences, but the published statements of what NSF sees as its mission under this authority indicate an overly timid approach, and one dominated by the views of those who really see applied research as less "dignified" than basic science. The Edward Tellers who stress the importance of applied work and who try to upgrade its status are too rare.
Without being able to spell out what needs to be done (since I am neither a scientist nor an engineer), I can only urge that this is a question of great importance, scientifically and in terms of governmental finances, and one that might well be considered along with the creation of some kind of department of science. Such a department might well provide the right locus for fruitful work on the relationship. One part of the effort might well take the form of a laboratory whose specific function would be to monitor the basic research in some specific sample areas of science, and attempt to pick out and work on ideas for creating technological applications. Maybe this is naive, but since I have not seen anything to belie the possibilities, I throw it out for whatever consideration it may be worth.
With the exception of this final digression on applied science, I have focused my remarks on one segment of the science activities field that I think is especially ripe for centralization: the basic research-higher education portion of the spectrum. Beyond that, I am much more skeptical about either the possibility of, or the need for, centralization. The question does need to be raised concerning the