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Dr. SEABORG. In the AEC, you mean?
Dr. SEABORG. No; my answer would be that I would leave the AEC pretty much as it is, which of course is not inconsistent with some kind of coordinating mechanism, even eventually a Department of Science. But I don't believe I would dismember it based on the arguments that I have made in my prepared statement.
Mr. GOLDWATER. You presented some apprehension.
Mr. GOLDWATER. But you feel that perhaps consolidation would bring, better benefits to science ?
Dr. SEABORG. A consolidation of a number of departments ?
Dr. SEABORG. All the departments of science into a single Department of Science?
Mr. GOLDWATER. Yes.
Dr. SEABORG. I think it would be premature at this time. I would go to a coordinating mechanism involving increased abilities in the Office of Science and Technology, as an example, as a first step.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Another matter I am somewhat concerned about, and that is our universities and the use you make of them.
We all know that there is quite a bit of money and effort put forth into our schools in the research programs. Do you feel the American people are getting a return on their invested dollar from a scientific standpoint ?
Dr. SEABORG. Yes, we do.
Dr. SEABORG. We feel so, in the projects that we have. The major part of our research budget goes into our national laboratories, which as I indicated cooperate closely with the universities. But we have somewhat over a thousand research contracts with universities which are very carefully placed and monitored, and we feel that we are getting—the Government is getting its money's worth in those contracts.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Do you feel that there might possibly be some duplications, or are you referring to the fact that you share laboratories? Might there not be some duplication in research projects from one science to another that, lets's say, could be combined if they were better coordinated from a more centralized approach?
Dr. SEABORG. Well, this would be one of the advantages of a stronger coordinating mechanism. But so far as the basic research is concerned, which is published in the scientific literature, I am not very much afraid of duplication. That is sort of a self-policing mechanism. No scientist wants to be in the position of publishing second in his field, and so you have a sort of a self-policing mechanism there that eliminates the danger of duplication.
There is some need, depending on the type of scientific investigation, of confirming work, for example. An example of that at the present time involves confirming work not in the United States but an international example: Soviet scientists in the Dubna laboratory announced some years ago that they discovered the element with the atomic number 104, which would be the next highest element in the scale of elements, short of this island of stability that I talked about,
just at the edge of what you might call the peninsula of presently known elements.
Work by Ghiorso and coworkers in the radiation laboratory of the University of California attempted to confirm that, because of its importance. This is a case where you would want to do the same thing just to prove whether it is right or not. And they were not able to confirm it. They could not find the same isotope of element 104 that the Soviet scientists had.
And then they went on and found two or three other isotopes of element 104. So now we have the situation of determining which group is right, which will probably involve maybe a third group getting into it.
In general, I think you don't have to worry too much about unnecessary duplication in the field of basic research.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Just one more. How many universities do you involve?
Dr. SEABORG. Our 1,000-plus contracts
Dr. English. I don't know. Let me take a guess and if I may I will correct it for the record.
Mr. DADDARIO. Please.
Dr. SEABORG. No; this is essentially all in the United States. There may be a couple of biology and medicine contracts abroad, but the great majority is in the United States.
Mr. GOLDWATER. Approximately 100, then? Dr. SEABORG. I would say a few hundred. Dr. ENGLISH. Several hundred.1 Mr. GOLDWATER. Thank you. Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Seaborg, we appreciate your testimony, and are pleased to have had Dr. English here.
As always, time does not allow us to ask all the questions we would like, and I would appreciate it if we could send some to you for the record.
Dr. SEABORG. All right, we would be pleased to respond for the record.
(Questions submitted by the subcommittee to Dr. Glenn Seaborg:) Question No. 1. It is common knowledge that the National Science Foundation has always had difficulty selling itself to Congress and the American public. What positive steps can you suggest that the Foundation might take to improve its image, extend its constituency and secure the funds corresponding to a national policy of continued preeminence for U.S. science?
Answer No. 1. The problem that the National Science Foundation faces in regard to its image with the Congress and the American public is manyfold. For one thing, the NSF lacks the glamour of a mission-oriented organization. It would be difficult to equate its success with any one significant breakthrough. While it established and is a major source of support for such large scientific facilities as the Kitt Peak National Observatory and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, it does not directly operate such facilities and so the public does not associate the Foundation with them or their accomplishments. Its staff is not directly involved in any lifesaving medical procedures. It is not directly involved in the launching of rockets, the releasing of new sources of energy or the operation of any other "spectaculars” of our nuclear-space age. It is, however,
1 In fiscal year 1968 there were approximately 240 colleges and universities involved in AEC programs.
directly and very significantly involved in supporting the basic scientific research that underlies much of the progress in our mission-oriented programs and in the science education that has given this country so many of the advantages it holds today. This is the message it must sell to the American public and Congress.
The major problem of image-building related to this is that it is difficult for most people to grasp the significance of basic research and education to technological progress. It is equally difficult for them to appreciate the importance of properly administering programs supporting basic science. Sufficient support to the “right” research at the "right” time can have a great effect on our national well-being over the years. With some hindsight today people are seeing how we might have been better off environmentally, technologically and in other ways, had our resources for basic science and science education been allocated certain ways.
Perhaps NSF can do more to show how their efforts and resources directly and indirectly affect, and could affect, the public. They can do this through their own regular public information channels and perhaps by emphasizing to the people and organizations they support the need for more effective public relations. The report, “Technology in Retrospect and Critical Events in Science,” prepared by the Illinois Institute of Technology, under contract to NSF, was a start in this direction. More must be done along these lines.
In addition to emphasizing the importance of the basic research and science education they support, the NSF might also point out their expanded role, in accordance with the new legislation of 1968 (Public Law 90 407), which grants them involvement in applied research, the social sciences and programs of international cooperation, all of which are receiving more public attention and acceptance in a world demanding more positive results from science in solving man's problems.
Question No. 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 No. 2. The government-wide application of the PPB system in 1966 had no major impact on the management or organization of scientific activities in the AEC since the underlying planning-programming-budgeting methods and techniques had been previously developed and applied in the AEC. The BOB establishment of formal PPB requirements, however, has led to increased emphasis on consideration of alternatives, on significant programmatic issues and, in applied development, on the use of economic analyses in making program decisions. Also, in 1966 the AEC's Office of Assistant to the General Manager for Program Analysis was established to provide guidance and assistance in the preparation of special analytic studies for which our program divisions (including scientific program divisions) have been and still are responsible. Under AEC's cost-based program budget system, we have budgeted and managed scientific programs in terms of costs by project in applied development and by functional area in basic research since 1950. Longer range program planning in the AEC has followed these same project or functional classifications since 1956. The program divisions and subordinate units are organized along project or functional lines; thus, the AEC does not have to prepare complicated “cross-walks” to reconcile planning and programming classifications with budget classification, and has had no difficulty in establishing responsibility for management of scientific activities by organization on a functional basis.
The AEC over the years has prepared a number of special studies in the scientific field. In development fields such as civilian power reactors, and other specific applications for reactors and isotopic energy sources, economic analyses have been used. In basic research, however, we have been constrained in the application of this technique due to the extreme difficulty in quantifying outputs which are essential for meaningful utilization in cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness analyses. On the basis of our experience with this technique, it is our judgment that it is not too fruitful in basic research areas. There has been considerable multi-year planning of our basic research activities and studies of these programs have been made ; for example, in the Controlled Thermonuclear Research Programs and in the High Energy Physics Program.
Question No. 3. Since the AEC is admittedly successful, should it be given more responsibility for research peripheral to nuclear energy (e.g. desalting—now in Office of Saline Water, thermal waste effects—FWPCA, ecology-basic knowledge-N8F, medical applications of isotopes—NIH). Who judges these projects vis-a-vis other nuclear projects on overall priority basis?
Answer No. 3. The AEC is currently carrying out studies related to desalting, thermal waste effects, basic aspects of ecology, and medical applications of isotopes. The AEC work in each of these areas falls clearly within AEC responsibilities as confined and directed by the Atomic Energy Act. These areas are peripheral only in the sense of having a well-defined interface with responsibilities of other federal agencies, but not at all in the sense of depending on especially broad interpretation of AEC authority. Certainly much, and probably most of the work of the AEC bears on national objectives for which the AEC shares its concern with other agencies. Weapons development work obviously demands close coordination with the Department of Defense. Work concerning nuclear systems for space applications similarly demands intimate coordination with NASA. In all our efforts, we must take full account of responsibilities assigned by Congress to other agencies. Such agencies, including AEC, frequently have central responsibilities for a given area of research and development, and thus need to assign priorities in that area which AEC must take into account.
A variety of mechanisms have been developed to ensure adequate coordination including, as a somewhat unusual example, the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office which is staffed jointly with AEC and NASA employees. Another mechanism is that used between AEC and OSW wherein there has been continuous close coordination in the pursuit of development activities and projects in the nuclear-desalting areas. Wherever there are areas of joint responsibility, as there must be in any grouping of federal activities within a reasonably small number of agencies, procedures have to be worked out for drawing a line separating the work of the different agencies.
As I understand this question the principal thrust concerns whether the AEC feels adequate account is taken and use made of the record of success to which we point with pride. I feel the present mechanisms for mapping the boundaries between agency activities are fundamentally sound, and that within these mechanisms and boundaries, AEC's talents are generally being used appropriately. Major reliance is placed within the executive branch on informal discussions, supplementing formal agreements, between agencies. The AEC is seeking no expansion of its statutory authorities. We have, as I have said, a full agenda of exciting and important work in the nuclear field. In areas involving any degree of joint responsibility we will continue to indicate our interest in programs of national importance whenever they are within our authority and range of competence. We will also continue to perform work for other agencies in our facilities to the fullest possible extent, along the lines indicated to your Subcommittee in past hearings.
The primary responsibility for judging the priorities of projects in the nuclear area, including comparisons of projects only distantly and those rather closely related to activities of other agencies, belongs squarely to the AEC itself. The AEC should not and does not make these judgments without the benefit of appropriate discussions with other agencies. Clearly, the Bureau of the Budget and other arms of the administration, as well as the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and other parts of Congress modify our recommendations in accordance with their overriding responsibilities.
Question No. 4. How large a staff would OST need to do the coordinating job you see as necessary? How can the Federal Council do more than it is at present to increase interagency coordination, since it is subject to the limitations of an advisory voluntary interagency coordinating body?
Answer No. 4. I cannot give a precise number, or even percentage in relation to OST's current staff size, that it would need to do a more comprehensive coordinating job. My judgment is that the current staff of about 50 is too small; it is also my judgment that an immediate doubling of the staff might make it too unwieldy. Somewhere in between would be an optimum size, at least initially, with which to undertake more effective coordination.
With respect to the FCST, I believe that it is limited in the sense that it cannot direct individual agencies to coordinate with other agencies. However, the FCST can sponsor and oversee the activities of more interagency committees, such as the Interagency Committee on Atmospheric sciences, which, being composed of working members of individual agencies, and chaired by an OST staff member, can exchange and consolidate all sorts of information about their respective programs. These in turn can be very useful to the individual agencies, the BOB, OST and FCST in dealing with problems associated with the particular fields involved and in planning their activities in these fields. The
FCST can also sponsor and oversee the activities of Ad Hoc Interagency Committees to deal with special one-time problems.
Question No. 5. The AEC was an early supporter of ecological studies, which is to its credit. With the obviously growing Federal concern over ecological matters, however, there seems to be good reason to bring together in one department those scientific and technological products upon that environment. To what extent would you favor arrangements to bring more closely together the ecological resources developed by the AEC, the PHS, Interior and perhaps some of the military departments ?
Answer No. 5. We are in favor of establishing new arrangements, and strengthening present arrangements, for coordinating the ecological activities undertaken by various arms of the federal government. It is both the nature of ecology and the growing federal concern over environmental problems which had led us to seek and actively support arrangements for identifying common problems and developing unified approaches to their solution. I think a particularly fine example of this approach is that undertaken by the Energy Policy Staff of OST in connection with its study and recommendations regarding environmental factors influencing the siting of power plants. As you know, Commissioner Ramey is a vigorous participant in the activities of this group. We strongly supported the establishment of the President's environmental Quality Council and now look forward to participating in its activities as a promising mechanism for increasing the effectiveness of our ecology programs in meeting environmental problems; both those that are specifically related to developing nuclear technology and those that are broader based.
I believe environmental assessment and development of methods to minimize environmental impact to be an essential part of the development of new technologies. I do not believe that these activities can be meaningfully separated. Therefore, the assignment of separate responsibilities for technology development and environmental assessment does not appear to be an effective way to proceed.
Mr. DADDARIO. Thank you.
Dr. Wenk, we regret that it is such a late hour, but we will keep going as long as we can.
I am not going into any long analysis of your biographical material; it is enough to say that you have been before this committee many times. We are happy to have you here, and will try to keep going to complete the statement, if we might.
STATEMENT OF DR. EDWARD WENK, JR., EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
NATIONAL COUNCIL ON MARINE RESOURCES AND ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT FOR THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT, COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND ASTRONAUTICS
Dr. WENK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Development.
It is a genuine privilege to appear before your subcommittee today and to reexamine with you this critical relationship between science, society, and the Federal Government. Your subcommittee has a conspicuous record of concern over the health of science. But you have also set benchmarks in your inquiries into the way science contributes to the health of the Nation and the policies and practices of the Federal Government that are key elements in the ability of this Nation to realize the fruits of scientific discovery.
Your prefacing statement in the committee report, Mr. Chairman, on “Centralization of Federal Science Activities” sets the stage, how