Page images
PDF
EPUB

I think it is always good practice to continue to examine the effectiveness of the instrumentalities of our country which deal with both of these important aspects of science, and especially to discover whether our Federal Government is organized to do its best for both. Thus I heartily approve your investigation. As a result of my own study of the subject, I have come to the conclusion that we should not radically reorganize the agencies of the Federal Government at this time, but rather strengthen the existing agencies to do a better job of supporting both faces of science.

With respect to basic scientific research there are several areas which badly need better federal support, but I believe this support should come through existing agencies new assigned to this job, particularly the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and some parts of the Office of Education. We must insure that a continuous and growing supply of young scientists and that favorable working conditions including monetary support for practitioners of science are available for the exploration and development of new fields of science. The agencies which I have mentioned have developed ways and means of doing these things well. I urge you to give them credit for the job they have done and to strengthen their hand in doing these jobs still better.

Whenever you leaders of this country believe new fields of science deserve support, the missions of these agencies should be broadened or new agencies patterned after them should be established. A case of this kind is now coming to the fore. Many people believe that the social sciences must be strengthened to help in the solution of severe, pivotal societal problems confronting the nation today. The reasons are mostly practical, for we already need to apply some social sciences in areas where we haven't yet developed the sciences themselves. It is my belief that the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health can be expanded to cover some of the appropriate social sciences effectively just as they have been covering the physical and biological sciences.

Another example of an area where the Federal Government needs to pay more attention on the side of science itself at this time in history is in the support of graduate education in science. Here several problems are arising. One of these is the serious problem of financing the research of professors and students, research which is a necessary ingredient of graduate education. Another is to understand and adjust better to the changes in interest of potential science students. The National Science Foundation has turned its attention to these kinds of problems recently, and I believe NSF and other existing agencies, if properly supported by our government, can solve them.

On the side of the application of science, the government picture is more complex, for almost all the departments of the Federal Government have some involvement in the application of science: the Department of Defense for the defense of the country, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency for exploring the moon, the Department of Transportation to improve technologically all of our modes of transportation, the Department of Commerce to strengthen our industry, the Department of the Interior for the sensible utilization of our resources and the conservation of our land, and so on. The list can go on almost indefinitely. In these agencies the accent is on application and not on science itself. To be sure, most of these agencies have found ways of supporting pure science in a small way. They have done so to insure that the kinds of scientists who are important in applications are in good supply as well as to increase scientific knowledge in areas of interest to themselves. And they have succeeded in building bridges to the field of science itself-needed bridges of communication. But one can never get away from the point that their primary interest is the application of science, not pure science. These agencies have performed par excellence in applying modern science, some possibly a little to fast as in the case of pesticides or nerve gas.

One of the great things we have accomplished in the last quarter century is to evolve approaches which bring right to the top of the administration and of the legislative bodies of our government the programs and progress and problems in science and its applications. I believe that science is much too important to be organized into a department which is designed primarily to shift the important prority setting to a lower level of government. It is primarily for this reason that I believe in the fundamentals of our current organization rather than in a highly centralized Department of Science. If we could centralize the administration of science and make it more effective without losing this top-level involvement, then I would look with more favor on such an organization.

I have looked at various proposals for the organization of a Department of Science, and there do seem to be several advantages. The strongest, as stated by scientists, is that science would have a more forceful single spokesman at the top level of our administration. This, of course, can be accomplished in many other ways. It is accomplished in part by the current arrangement with the Presidential Science Advisor. But if this is not satisfactory, it would be quite possible in some of the forthcoming explorations of government organizations to propose that our cabinet have, in addition to the departmental secretaries, a minister of science who has a portfolio but no administrative agency reporting directly to him.

Another reason often cited for a centralized agency is to work out priorities of action and funding before they come to the higher levels of government. Personally I think that we have already developed quite effective techniques of bringing the details of science to Congress and the administration, and I have to congratulate the non-scientific leaders of both these organizations for developing solid understanding of the importance of the various aspects of science and its applications. I do not think we are falling short there. I would rather have the leaders of science and the leaders of science application appealing directly to you than going through many intermediaries.

One of the possibilities suggested by the Chairman in his letter transmitting the report under consideration by this Subcommittee was that of a government study. I would be heartily in favor of that, for I do feel that some of our agencies seem to have outgrown their original purpose and possibly it is time for modification, possibly even consolidation. I am convinced that many government laboratories are being underused and that if they were properly oriented to new tasks and if we could close the books on residual tasks of lesser importance, they could give more to the country. This does not seem to be pointing toward a Department of Science, but a revival of existing agencies. True, centralized Department of Science might perform this function of upgrading and updating various laboratories more effectively than is now done in our government.

There is another area in which a Department of Science might help. There is no question that when the major interest of the Federal Government and of the people of the country as reflected by the Federal Government's activities changes abruptly in nature, existing agencies of government are caught short. One can see very clearly that the support for science and its applications as practiced in the past 25 years by the Federal Government has not given the proper background of research knowledge and the supplies of educated people to attack some of the problems of society-not new problems but newly recognized problems of conservation, air pollution, and a number of others. A centralized Department of Science might be capable of shifting the focus of science to such issues more quickly. This could be considered as another reason for a central agency. But this function could be performed as easily by a national goals committee established by Congress or the administration to study the relative priorities of the federal department with recommendation of realignment and redirection. And since science is not the only element that needs to be redirected in order to approach these problems, it could probably be better done on a platform which was broader than science itself.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I would like to repeat the conclusion that I presented earlier. I think that our Federal Government appreciates the problems of both science itself and science applications. Our problem is to support both more effectively and to improve the existing organizations and their methods.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you.

Dr. STEVER. I might go on and build from that. In the statement, I tried to distinguish between the problems of organization of the Federal Government science structure and the problems related to basic science and those of the application of science. In many ways,

of

course, these two run a continuous spectrum of activity, but some problems stand out which are clearly on the basic side and some which are clearly on the application side.

The problem of separating and also combining these two sides of science is not a new problem nor is it confined to our society. It has been going on as long as there has been science. Some have focused

on the basic side, and others have focused on the application, and still others, a smaller number by a large margin, have been able to range over the problems of both.

Since the objective of your studies is really to get at the effectiveness of the organization, the instrumentalities of government to do for our country the best with science, I think we ought to look at the record, and

think we should never forget that the instrumentalities of government, that we now have, figured very markedly in bringing science and its application in this country to an extremely high level. So it isn't as if we are examining something that is failing in its entirety. We are examining it from the standpoint of trying to find a possibly better way of doing it, improving it still further.

I have come to the conclusion—and this is a personal conclusionthat reorganization is not a crying necessity, but that rather we need a strengthening of some of the things we have.

Let me take what I consider some important issues for government on the basic side of science. In the first place, I think it must be recog

ed that the source of our scientists today—that is, the colleges and the universities that are producing the people who can do either basic or applied science for this country—those sources are dependent overwhelmingly on Federal support, and I think we should make much clearer what we are doing with a good part of our Federal science expenditures.

We are essentially enabling the colleges and universities to present outstanding education and to develop a goodly supply of scientists and engineers, and I think somehow we have got to work out better the plans, the long-term plans, to continue that development.

There is no question that when there is a change in direction or the amount of support by the Federal Government, the universities and colleges receive a tremendous impact from that.

Now, I am not saying that they should get everything they ask for, but I do think that it would be very well to make sure that the agencies of Government recognize the importance of giving a long-term stability to this aspect of science. This is on the basic side, and it deals not with the basic science itself, but with the supply of future scientists, engineers, and others who will carry out the work in the future.

Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Stever, Dr. Piore on Tuesday drew an analogy to industry. His point was that industry is able to adjust to its changes much more readily.

One of the reasons for his recommendation, for a greater degree of reorganization, than you indicate, was so that the changes in funding would not be as drastic. It could be handled better. They could overcome the problems that exist wherever an agency imposed a cutback. This develops a dislocation of activity and a severity even beyond the real financial cutting.

Dr. STEVER. I agree with this. If there is one strong reason for having a more centralized organization of science, essentially, it is to provide for better long-range advanced planning for this kind of thing. It goes beyond simply the supply of money, the yearly supply, because if there were better advanced planning, one could see changes in direction, the kinds of scientists who are going to be needed in greater supply in the long-term future, and one could plan for the longer term.

There is no question that this is one of the strongest reasons for centralization on the basic science side. If we can get better advanced planning, I think this would be definitely a plus.

Now, there may be other ways of doing it. The current agencies have some experience at thinking of these problems. If the administration and the Congress directed these agencies—the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Education, the agencies which have an input into the supply of science—to do a little more in this advanced planning of how the changes are going to come, I think that we might also accomplish it that way. But I really do think that this is possibly the biggest gap in the present organization, the fact that it has set up some good mechanisms to carry out this support, but it possibly hasn't seen in advance the changes in our society. That would be the greatest criticism.

Mr. DADDARIO. This would require not just advanced planning, but a close relationship of the political choices with the scientific choices so that they work harmoniously.

Dr. STEVER. Absolutely. You know, there is a long leadtime on this supply of scientists and engineers and all others who are involved. After all, at the present time, a lot of our young people in the colleges are getting quite excited about developing their lives to solve the particular problems that are emerging very rapidly in our society, but they are going to take 4 years to get through undergraduate college and 3 or 4 years to get through graduate college, and then some experience before they are really going to have an immense impact.

So advanced planning is very important simply because of the long leadtime of turning out this kind of a person.

Mr. DADDARIO. Unless you have advanced planning in a more significant and visible way than it is presently, you prevent kids from taking that long course.

Dr. STEVER. I think this is right, and I do believe that this may be the biggest gap in the effectiveness of your science operations as affected by Government.

By the way, that also extends over into the application of science, but I believe there can be a shorter leadtime in changing direction with respect

the application of science than there is with respect to the supply of the basic scientists in the different fields.

For example, right now I feel that we could reorganize a lot of our Government effort in the application of science on a much shorter time scale to address some problems, and I don't have to list them. They are all the social, the urban and the environmental problems that are on everybody's minds today and everybody can give a long list.

I actually think we do not need to take as long as we may take with respect to reorganizing, redirecting, those laboratories and units for the application.

Let me tell you why I feel that. We have had experience doing it. We have had experience in redirection of scientific and engineering effort in World War II and the time constant; we did it when we had an emergency there, in about 2 or 3 vears. We rearranged the lives of many people, and had them producing important things for that war. After all, the radar labs that were started just about a year or two before we got into the war were producing by the time we got into the war and by the middle of that war—this is a time scale of only 4 or 5 years—they were in tremendous operation, and I actually think we could repeat that.

We did it with NASA, too. There was another emergency when we turned to, and I actually think this is something which our Government ought to do.

I think we can establish centers pointing toward these new problems, getting at them with not just a submarginal but a major effort. We can establish both Government laboratories and Government-supported laboratories, and I don't even mean just science laboratories; we can turn out all the other people needed to attack these complex issues.

I think, at the same time we do that, in order to operate efficiently we might want to look over the other government labs and governmentsupported efforts to make sure that some of them are phased out when they are not as relevant as they were or to convert some to these new issues.

Mr. DADDARIO. The point you just raised has been threading through these hearings.

How do you adjust yourself to the society's needs? You hear from the people who are in charge that they wouldn't feel these restraints if we would be allowed to phase them in and out over a period of time. Yet this is no answer to the fact that they have not set up a timetable for

phasing in and out.

This is only a part of the major problem. If you begin developing in the country the ability to shift your laboratories from one phase of activity to another, you are going to have to develop a planning capability which is more national in scope than they presently are.

Dr. STEVER. Yes, I will agree, and let's look to the experience.

In the first place, to tackle the problems in front of us, we need more than just the physical sciences which we have gotten so well organized in this country. We need more than the life sciences. We need the social sciences as well, and the political sciences. In other words, these are complex issues.

Now, when we attacked the problem such as our military problems, going back to World War II, we had planning and the political side of this in the military organizations themselves, and so the laboratory approach, the research approach, the development approach, the engineering approach, was essentially added onto a large and complex operation in our military, our defense structure.

When we tackle these modern problems, we are going to have to remember that science alone isn't going to solve them, but I don't think they are going to get solved without science. So our real problem, as we convert, is to bring all the phases together. As you know, I was a member of a National Science Foundation Commission on the social sciences, and as far as I am concerned, one of the most important kinds of recommendations that that group came out with was this idea of developing broader scale centers to tackle these problems, centers which don't just depend upon an engineering group, for example, tackling transportation through the city, because there is also sociology involved in that and politics and political science. We have got to find ways to do this better.

Now, we, at the present time, in our studies for tackling those complex problems are at a very high level in the Government right here in this

« PreviousContinue »