« PreviousContinue »
organization for communication and consultation within the federal components of the system and externally with academic institutions and their intermedians. Under the theory that has prevailed until now, advance consultation among agencies to adjust proposed actions that will affect higher education and academic science should be effective. It is quite evident, however, that consultation of this sort will be less and less effective in producing significant alterations in the prospective situation, and particularly in coping with the large-scale problem of securing a good fit between federal programs for academic science and other programs affecting universities, particularly at the graduate level. There has been much interagency consultation on major actions affecting academic science, but even in this area, effective action is limited. Timely results are hard to derive from interagency consultation because the power of decision is dispersed among many points and levels in the large agencies. Finally, the mission agencies have statutory authority to modify their programs in the interest of strengthening academic science only within very narrow limits.
When the broader question of reconciling goals, emphasis, purpose, and relations between various programs for academic science and for more general support of higher education is considered, it becomes evident that the machinery is even rudimentary. Two weak interagency committees, the Federal Interagency Committee on Education and the Committee on Academic Science and Engineering of the Federal Council for Science and Technology, provide the only institutionalized means of dealing with these questions.
The climate has changed rapidly and now includes: budgeting constraints; rising costs of performing research; multiplying problems at the interface of academic science and higher education in general; pressures for equalization in distribution of limited funds for academic science and institutional support; increasing institutional needs for assurance in long-term planning; and frustration and friction arising from inadequate government-university communications.
It is time to strengthen the federal organization for planning, balancing, and communication between the function of supporting academic science and the emerging federal function of general support for higher education. Therefore, any structural remedy must go beyond a concern for academic science alone and place research and education in a unified perspective.
A. Establish More Stable Funding for Academic Science
Inability to establish a persuasive case for moderate continuing increases in funds for academic science is an urgent, central problem and a major source of current difficulties. Planning for academic science in the Executive Branch must be more coherent, the product must be more forceful and persuasive, and efforts to convince Congress and the public of the value of academic science must be more effective.
1. Prepare a Three-Year "Indicative Plan” for Federal Support of Academic Science.--Plans for Federal support for academic science could be considered more deliberately, plans laid more judiciously, and the product presented more logically and persuasively to the Congress and the public if the main characteristics of Federal support for academic science (funding, methods of support, major areas of emphasis, etc.) were laid out for three years in advance. Such a plan should provide policy guidance on the growth and directions of support and on the changing mix among agencies and among the various forms of support.
The plan should include minimal projections for funding by all agencies which now support academic research. It should be agreed by the agencies and, hopefully, it could be used to indicate to Congress that integrated budgeting is indeed taking place. The plan could be made public as an "indicative" planning document for the universities. If projections were conservative, representing a sort of minimum federal guarantee, false hopes for the future should be replaced by realistic programming within the universities. Any change would probably be an add-on and the plan could be extended year by year. Such a plan would provide an opportunity to restate each year the rationale for federal support of academic science and would provide a vehicle for better informing the Congress and the public.
OST capabilities to deal with this planning should be strengthened by the establishment of an academic science policy coordinating staff. The NSF should be given formal responsibility for providing factual and analytical back-up.
Each major agency should prepare a three-year indicative plan for support of academic science as a guide to its actions and as part of a wider plan.
BOB and OST should, in consultation with the major agencies concerned, prepare a three-year indicative plan for federal support of academic science for the fiscal year 1971 budget and every year thereafter.
The establishment of this planning process should be explicitly noted in a Presidential message to the Congress.
2. Increase the Budget of the National Science Foundation.—Both to deal with the present emergency in the universities and as a first step in carrying out a long-range policy, the budget of NSF for the next fiscal year should be increased. Specifically, the next administration budget for NSF should include an increase in obligational authority sufficient to enable the Foundation to compensate for the cumulative effects of budgetary constraints among the agencies which fund parts of academic science. The amount budgeted for NSF should, as a minimum, be sufficient to maintain activity in academic science at its present leval (without any expansion of the overall enterprise) but allowing for increases in real cost. These funds should be dispensed through institutional grants that give the colleges and universities greater flexibility in meeting their individual needs. NSF is already making such grants on a small scale and the authority and administrative structure exist for an expansion of the existing puny program.
If it should be decided to implement this recommendation to increase NSF funds, administration's announcement should make it clear that this arrangement to enable NSF to act as a "gap-filler" is not intended to relegate NSF to this role permanently but that it is the first step, and the only one now feasible, toward the long-range goal of equipping NSF to play the role for which it was originally established. There should also be some reference to the future when total federal support for academic science will again begin to expand but at more modest rates than those prevailing before 1966.
Serious consideration should be given to persuading the relevant Congressional committees that NSF should be placed on a 3-year authorization and appropriation cycle. B. Continue and Strengthen the Existing System of Pluralistic Support
1. Role of the Mission-Oriented Agencies.-The mission-oriented agencies should continue to finance academic research which is related to and a part of their missions. To the extent consistent with its mission, each of the agencies should use its authority and funds to strengthen academic institutions whenever this can be done without interfering with its primary responsibilities. The mission-oriented agencies should also continue to support the advanced training of people required for their missions.
The alternative of centralizing all or most support for academic science and advanced training in the sciences should be rejected because a decentralized system: (1) links support of science to national goals; (2) disperses and thereby strengthens support; (3) provides an essential underpinning for applied research, development, and testing; and (4) increases in the agencies and in Congress sensitivity to the uses of science and technology in anticipating, creating, and solving important public problems. These values far outweigh the gains to be expected from centralized administra
tion and funding and should be preserved. 2. Enhance the Flexibility of Federal Support of Colleges and Universities.Essentially every study concerned with institutional "flexibility” in recent years has concluded that there is need for increasing the amount of money given to the institution to balance the effect of expanded project support.
Therefore, in order to gain full advantage from the values of the project system of research support while minimizing the inflexibility that can accompany heavy
8 See, for example :
Quality and Equality: Nero Levels of Federal Responsibility for Higher Education, Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, 1968.
Recommendations for National Action Affecting Higher Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities and National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, 1969.
Toward a Públic Policy for Graduate Education in the Sciences, National Science Board, National Science Foundation, 1969.
Graduate Education: Parameters for Public Policy, National Science Board, National Science Foundation, 1969.
The Crisis of the Medical Schools, Commonwealth Fund and Carnegie Corporation, 1967. reliance on project support, additional funds should be made available on an institutional basis for research-related activities which they select. Such activities might include:
provision of support for research that cannot yet be funded externally, provision of central research facilities not otherwise provided for support of new investigators,
provision of a financial “shock absorber” when grants, contracts, training grants, or fellowships are unexpectedly curtailed or terminated. Support of this type is already provided by NSF for the total science activities of institutions, but the funds provided are grossly inadequate to fulfill the functions that are suggested here and project funding dominates present doctrine. NIH makes similar grants, restricted to the biomedical research sector, but available funds have never reached the levels authorized by Congress. The enlargement of this type of support would involve boosting the NSF and NIH budgets since basic legislative authority for institutional support already exists.
On the other hand, the general underpinning for university finances should not be provided via the route of science and technology as suggested by the so-called Miller bill. No single formula can be used to accomplish all federal objectives in these institutions. Formulas for such grants must be devised after careful study of the actual effects of suggested changes upon the ongoing programs of typical institutions in various parts of the country.
It must be emphasized that the key to successful use of institutional funding to alleviate imbalances created by project-grants is the formula employed. Careful and detailed study of the broad area of general support of higher education is a necessity before any long-term action is taken.
3. Establish NSF as a Prime Source of Federal Funds for Academic Science.As a long-range objective, NSF should provide the stable primary base of federal support for academic science as the agency acquires the capacity to secure markedly higher and stable budgets. The mission-oriented agencies should continue to support academic science, but they should not be expected to provide broadly based support for academic science without regard to the limits set by their missions.
NSF should not be regarded as a "gap-filler" or "balance wheel" but as the strong point in the Federal Government concerned with the strengthening of academic science, and as a major source (not less than a third of the total) of federal funds for academic science. C. Improve the Administration of Federal Academic Science Programs
1. Reduce Administrative Inconsistencies.-Much of the heat associated with academic science problems still comes from inconsistencies among federal agencies in policies, procedures, and practices with respect to contract and grant administration including such matters as proposal content and format, terms and conditions of agreements, property and equipment title, and records requirements, and technical, financial, and administrative reporting.
At little or not cost, steps to eliminate inconsistencies (not to establish rigid standardization) would do a great deal to restore the academic community's confidence that the government understands and is concerned with the problems faced by the universities.
2. Establish Sound Policy Guides.-In such areas as cost sharing and charging of faculty salaries to federal research grants and contracts, the establishment of generally accepted, consistent philosophy as to the proper roles, rights, and obligations of universities and the Federal Government is the key to resolutions of difficulties.
3. Cushion the Shock of Unexpected Restriction of Funds.-All agencies should be instructed to take steps to minimize sudden termination of grants and contract support through arrangements to "phase out" support over a reasonable period of time. The "step-funding" approach of the type used by NASA and the DOD Project Themis (a three-year grant with two years' initial funding on a 122–12 basis) is an example of such an arrangement. The precise devices that are needed and practicable will depend upon the circumstances facing each agency. This is difficult to achieve immediately without more NOA and, of course, it is not a protection against expenditure cuts.
It is improbable, although not impossible, that agencies will again be in a position to incur obligations for academic science to an extent that an expenditure cut will catch them in a situation where they cannot meet existing commitments although new starts might be affected.
4. Central Administrative Responsibility of the Bureau of the Budget. The key to dealing effectively with these administrative problems is the establishment of a capable organization with resources to permit adequate continuing work on the problem and with authority to make its decisions stick.
Responsibility for further progress should rest with the Bureau of the Budget, which should provide resources for continuing improvement of the important nuts and bolts” aspects of government-university relations in science.
The significance of improved administration of academic science should be emphasized by the simultaneous issuance of an appropriate Presidential directive-memorandum or letter. This should direct the agencies to cooperate with BOB in establishing uniform and consistent administrative practices to the greatest degree permitted by law, to simplify their grant and contract procedures for academic science, to adapt their regular procurement rules and procedures to the special requirements of R & D, and to assist colleges and universities with the establishment of these procedures. BOB already has responsibility for administrative management, emphasis on the urgency of the matter through issuance of a Presidential directive would increase the probability of effective action. -The alternative of placing responsibility in a new agency ("a GSA for aca
demic science") has been discarded because the function is not broad enough or significant enough to warrant establishment of a new agency. The alternative of placing the function in OST was discarded because OST does not have the responsibility, management staff and experience possessed by BOB, and because assumption of this responsibility by OST would reduce
its capacity to perform its primary functions. D. Improve the Organization of the Executive Office for Science and Education
Because of the gravity and urgency of the policy questions relating to education and science described earlier in this report, and because there is now no point in the executive branch where these issues can be discussed and resolved effectively on a continuing institutionalized basis, it is concluded that a new, permanent grouping of functions in the executive branch is needed. Leadership and coordination of the departments and the establishment of policy for functions properly performed in a number of agencies can be effectively undertaken only in the Executive Office.
1. Alternative A. Establish a Statutory Council of Advisers on Education and Science.-A Council of Advisers on Education and Science should be established by legislation. The members should be full-time Presidential appointees, as contrasted with part-time advisers (as in the case of PSAC) or representatives of departments and agencies (as in the case of the Space Council).
The central function of this group would be to provide a continuing institutional strong point in the Executive Office-a point which does not now existto help the President with policy matters involving education, science and technology, and their interrelationships. A central concern of the Council would be with the kinds of complex problems relating to both education (particularly graduate education) and science (particularly academic science) noted earlier in this report.
An important role for the Council would be to meet the urgent needs of Congress for an understanding of the facts and the position of the administration on national goals in science, technology, and education. It would report to various committees of Congress on the progress being made by both public and private bodies, and thereby contribute to the understanding in Congress which has thus far been largely absent. Although the Council would not be responsible for carrying out programs, its relationship to the President, to the Bureau of the Budget, to Cabinet-level officers, and to Congress could be such that its influence would be substantial.
In more specific terms, it would be concerned with the problems that now concern OST, plus the central policy issues faced by the Federal Government with respect to education. It would advise with respect to support of institutions and support of students. On the science side, the new Council would be concerned with examination of the interactions of science with social development, international relations, technological advance and economic growth. It would study the mix of national investment in research, identify gaps, and evolve long-range science policy goals. A central concern of the Council would be the integration of policies with respect to support of graduate education and science.
PSAC would be retained. The FCST would be needed also.
So far as operating methods are concerned, the Council would be available to provide staff advice to the President and the Bureau of the Budget. It would replace OST, whose staff might become the Council staff while the Director of OST might become Chairman of the Council.
A sub-alternative worthy of serious consideration is a limitation of the role of the Council to graduate education and to academic science. This smaller package is more coherent, but lacks breadth and the full scope of problems in education and science should be encompassed, particularly if legislation is sought. However, if on political or other grounds the narrower definition seems preferable, such a Council would still represent an advance. Extension of functions could be informal and later ratified by legislation if
this seemed desirable. 2. Alternative B. Broaden and Strengthen OST.-The charter of the Office of Science and Technology should be redrafted to encompss policy towards graduate education as well as for science and technology. The change should be ratified by general legislation (as contrasted with a reorganization plan) to expose the issues to debate and to secure positive Congressional action. A persuasive reason for seeking legislation is that the debates in Congress would assist in generating Congressional understanding and support, and a feeling that OST is adequately responsive to Congress while remaining responsible to the President. On the other hand, there is the ever-present possibility that new legislation might result in assignment of a set of unwanted functions and an awkward administrative structure. If it should be decided that primary legislation is not desirable, the necessary broadening of functions could be brought about by Presidential action.
As between a new statutory Council and a revision of the charter of OST (either by Presidential action or legislation), it is recommended that a Council be established by law, although either alternative would result in marked improvement of the capability of the Executive Office to serve the President and to help Congress. The reasons for preferring the statutory Council are there:
Science and education are now as significant to the national welfare as economic development and the federal role in these areas is expanding and becoming more complex. It is important that Congress ratify this estimate.
A new statutory Council would avoid the strong coloration of science and technology that would follow from putting the combined functions in OST.
The Council form would provide for the expression of varying philosophies by persons with dissimilar backgrounds.
Establishment of a Council by law would expose issues to broad public
debate and would ratify the operation in the eyes of Congress. E. Consider the Establishment of a New Cabinet Department of Higher Educa
tion and Science The establishment of a new Cabinet Department of Higher Education and Science might be a means of dealing with many of the problems cited earlier in this paper. As a general principle, it is desirable to place as many of the functions of the Executive Branch as possible in operating departments and agencies in order to keep the responsibilities of the Presidency within managable bounds. However, it is a great problem to define the functions of a new department in a manner that will provide a broad, coherent set of tasks while keeping to a minimum the interfaces and points of overlap with other agencies.
While the functions of higher education and science are in many respects coherent, such a grouping would present obvious questions and problems:
Should the Federal Government be organized so that responsibility for higher education is separated from other education?
Should responsibility for science be separated from responsibility for technology?
Might it not be advisable to consider establishing a broad Department of Education, and a separate Department of Science?
Should the education function be split off from the health and welfare functions, involving a significant shift in the philosophy underlying the
existing Department of Health, Education and Welfare? It is the conclusion of the author that the next practical steps involve changes short of the establishment of a new Cabinet department. It is, in fact, highly probable that the establishment of the proposed statutory Council on Education and Science would serve adequately for the foreseeable future the functions.