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CENTRALIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENCE ACTIVITIES
THURSDAY, JULY 10, 1969
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., in room 2325, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Emilio Q. Daddario, (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DADDARIO. This meeting will come to order.
Dr. DuBridge, we are happy to have you here this morning as our first witness. As we open hearings today on centralization of Federal science activities, the status of American science and technology is in serious question. We have recently witnessed the rejection of the National Science Foundation's growth by the House for the second year in a row. The Department of Defense is challenged by academic dissidents and congressional budget cutters to get out of all research that is not obviously and immediately applicable to its mission. The National Institutes of Health feel the pressure for tangible results at the expense of continual exploratory research. The new agencies for housing, urban development, and transportation are under the
to produce service now, not research. NASA struggles with its future, and has seen its university sustaining program seriously curtailed.
The draft has had some effect on our graduate schools, and undergraduate enrollments in engineering and the hard sciences have slowed. The need for geographical distribution of science centers calls for new campuses and facilities while State budgets are strained, and private donations become more limited. Sophisticated instrumentation requirements and general inflation eat into the amount of research that a dollar will buy
At the same time, every single important national goal is dependent on better, cheaper, more reliable, and more versatile technology. Population, food supply, environmental quality, transportation, housing, education, defense, communications, medicine-all need an expansion of human knowledge for satisfactory progress.
Now I am not a believer in reorganization as a means of solving the problems of science support or any other malfunction of government. But the justification of spending increasing amounts of tax revenues to strengthen American science is obviously under critical examination. And the way in which these budget requests come to the Congress is a function of the executive branch organization. It may be that centralization would simply present a more compact target.
Aside from funding, organizational patterns affect the planning and coordination of science and engineering programs. The allocation of resources within any given budget is determined by the administrative structure used.
Thus, a number of aspects will be considered in these hearings. We have no preconceived stand in this subcommittee. We have talked to a number of experienced students of organization. The National Institutes of Research and Advanced Studies described in our background report is useful for focusing discussion but is not endorsed for implementation. Alternatives not yet presented may be added to the discussion by the testimony taken. No concentrated look at this problem has been taken by the Congress in some years, and the conditions of 1969 may give some surprising answers to old questions.
There are three parts to the executive science organization problem as we see it. First, the mission agencies have a continued need for research results which they must be free to pursue. Second, the patronage of university research and advanced training must be assured at an appropriate level. Finally, the White House science apparatus must be sustained and strengthened to serve the President, the Congress, and the executive departments. Any reorganization or centralization must preserve these features which, along with industrial and private sector institutions, have made American science great.
Our hearings rightfully begin with Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, who was a member of the science and technology panel of the full Committee on Science and Astronautics for 10 years, until he became the Director of the Office of Science and Technology this year.
We are pleased to have Dr. DuBridge here. Beyond being Science Adviser to the President, he is Chairman of the Federal Council for Science and Technology, Chairman of the President's Science Advisory Committee, and Executive Secretary of the recently created Environmental Quality Council, which is possibly just a prelude to other organizations which will be heaped on his back over the time ahead and which I am sure causes him continuing strain.
We are pleased to have you here, Dr. DuBridge.
Mr. MOSHER. Well, of course, I associate myself with your comments, Mr. Chairman. It would seem almost an imposition—a very serious imposition on Dr. DuBridge, on his time, to have him appear before another congressional committee. I am sure he is on the Hill a great deal of the time.
Nevertheless, the subject of these hearings is so timely and so significant and so fascinating that I am delighted that he will take the time to be here with us.
Dr. DuBRIDGE. Thank you.
Mr. DADDARIO. Well, Dr. DuBridge, the chairman, who I see has come in, has something to say.
Chairman MILLER. All I want to say is that I welcome Dr. DuBridge. I am very happy to have you. We feel like it is old home week when you are around, because you are, after all, sort of an alumnus of the committee.
Dr. DuBRIDGE. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF DR. LEE A. DuBRIDGE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Dr. Du BRIDGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Your remarks so beautifully set forth the problems that this committee is facing, that the Government is facing, that I almost feel that anything I would say would be somewhat redundant to what you have said.
I appreciate Mr. Mosher's suggestion that the time spent here is difficult to find. But I have found it an extremely useful and productive exercise for myself to give rather extended thought to the question of the Federal structure in the support of science and technology in this country. At least, I can say that in preparing my remarks today I have come to a somewhat clearer view of this somewhat confusing picture and it has certainly helped me straighten out some of my own thinking which I would now like to share with you.
First, let me say that I am very glad that this committee is giving careful attention to the relations between the Federal Government and the Nation's vastly important scientific enterprise. Needless to say, from the point of view of my present position, this is just about the most important problem which you could undertake to examine. I shall follow with the greatest interest the views, suggestions, and conclusions which emerge from these hearings.
I know that they will be of very great value and significance both to the executive branch of the Government and to the
Congress for both branches of our Government have a vital role to play in promoting the advance of science in this country.
In the first part of my statement I am going to confine myself largely to the problems of basic science, and will come later to some of the problems of applied science and technology.
I wish I could come to you today with a brilliant plan which would solve all our problems in this field. I am sure you do not expect that from someone who has been only 6 months in office. Also, even if I had a plan which I thought was brilliant, it is unlikely that many other people would share my high opinion of it, for there are great differences of opinion in this area.
As I hope to suggest, this is an enormously complex problem. There are many factors to be taken into account, and there are many views about the relative importance of these factors and many different ideas about the policies, procedures, and mechanisms for solving the problems which we face, and which the chairman has so cogently outlined.
Many different plans have been suggested for reorganizing the Federal structure for dealing with science. Many of these plans have exceedingly attractive features. All of them that I have seen also have drawbacks and most of them face serious problems in regard to their political feasibility.
My only purpose today will be to outline some of the basic facts about our national scientific enterprise and the features which we must retain or incorporate if we are to keep it great, make it greater, and insure that it meets our national needs and objectives.
I presume that it is fair to state that the reason which lies behind these hearings, and the many other public discussions of this subject,
is the belief on the part of many people that the present policies and structure of the Federal Government for the conduct and support of science are—to put it mildly-not as good as they should be. I share that belief. In fact, I believe also that the whole structure of our Federal Government is not as good as it should be. President Nixon believes this, too, as evidenced by the fact that he has created the new Advisory Council on Executive Organization. I think that the reports of the hearings of your committee, Mr. Chairman, will surely be of great interest to the Advisory Council, as well as to the Congress and to the public.
But while we seek to examine and cure the defects of the present Federal structure for science, we should be keenly aware of the strengths of the present structure and the brilliant results which have been achieved during the past 25 years. In fact, I sometimes think that there isn't anything wrong with the present structure that a lot more money would not cure. I hope that a major goal of any restructuring that may be proposed by the deliberations of this committee will be to insure adequate financing of the Nation's essential scientific activities. The most beautiful organizational diagram in the world would be meaningless if no one provided any money. A prime purpose of a plan must be to insure the maximum extent possible the continuous stabilized flow of adequate financing. The other desirable features of a good organizational plan-efficiency, coordination, communication, balance, flexibility, and the rest—are meaningless of there is no lifeblood in the system.
This leads me to remark that as we examine new plans for science management in the executive branch, perhaps someone should inquire into the adequacy of the structure in the legislative branch from which all good things like money-must flow.
Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. DuBridge, on that point, you will recall that we have from time to time said that the structure of the legislative branch is in fact a problem, and because we are so structured we do help to create some of the executive problems for obvious jurisdictional reasons. This we incorporate into our thinking as we make this examination. Of course, these are obviously parts of the problem which we recognize.
Dr. DuBRIDGE. Yes. I am glad to hear you say that.
Let's take a look, then, at our present scientific enterprise in America to see what we already have that we must cherish, nourish, and strengthen.
We have, we must admit-and we must emphasize the greatest and most productive scientific establishment in the world. With all the faults which we who are within the system see so clearly, our scientific achievements are admired and envied all over the world. Thousands of highly competent scientists—including many very brilliant onesare effectively at work in many kinds of laboratories in all fields of science all over the country. A large number of well-trained new scientists emerge from our universities every year and thousands of scientists and science students from other parts of the world seek to pursue their studies and their investigations in American institutions.
On these things I think we all agree. America does have, should have, and must have, the greatest scientific enterprise that can be
created. We must do this not just to be ahead of other countries, but for our own good, for our own welfare, for the good of all human beings everywhere. We must invest in a fine scientific effort because, from a purely practical point of view, it is our most profitable investment. But we must do it also because—as President Nixon has often stated-every great nation, to remain great, must have a great vision, must look outward and upward and forward. Our Nation must encourage the highest type of intellectual adventure and must do the things that challenge the minds and lift the spirits of all men.
What is there about our scientific system that has made it as good as it is? What are the essential features that we must retain and improve?
First, we must never forget—and we have not yet forgotten—that science is basically a human intellectual endeavor. New ideas in science emerge not from a machine, not from a computer, not from an organization chart, but from the imaginative, talented minds of individual human beings. Science flourishes when talented individual scientists have the maximum opportunity to use their talents in the pursuit of new knowledge.
The three things that scientists need to pursue their investigations effectively are: (1) freedom, or independence; (2) diversity of choice; and (3) opportunity.
Freedom allows the individual to pursue his research in his own way without rigid or authoritarian controls. Inflexible organizational structures are not conducive to creative science. Neither the department chairman, nor the research director, nor the college or company president, nor a Government official, should try to direct the work of a scientist, at least after he has passed through the student or apprentice phase.
Diversity, the second quality, means that a scientist will have a choice among many alternatives—as to what kind of a place in which he works, the field of science he pursues, and the way in which he pursues it.
Then opportunity means that when his choice has been exercised, the scientist will find the facilities, the congenial atmosphere, and the financial support which he requires.
Our present great research institutions and our present pattern of private and Government support have provided these three prerequisites to a large number of competent scientists in this country. Whatever we do in Government must be aimed at enhancing and not degrading this situation.
Since science can thrive and render maximum benefit to the Nation only to the extent that we can assure the productivity of talented individual scientists, let us look at the Government structure and procedures from the point of view of that all-important individual—the scientist at work in his laboratory, probably with a group of his yoringer colleagues and graduate students.
In a typical case, let us say, a scientist finds his university surroundings congenial to his work. He has stimulating colleagues on the faculty, a good library, and the respect and encouragement of the adniinistration. If he doesn't have these, he should blame the university, of course, and not the Government. He needs only funds to purchase