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The only official duty required of the Hunsaker Professor is to deliver the annual Minta Martin Lecture. This lecture, cosponsored by MIT and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is given at MIT, the University of Maryland, and other suitable locations. I completed the writing of the Minta Martin lecture, somewhat under pressure, I might say, prior to becoming the Secretary of the Air Force and gave the lecture at MIT on March 11, 1969, at the University of Maryland on March 20 and in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 24, and I will submit to the committee a copy of the lecture.
Mr. Brown. That is to prove that you actually did your work while you were there at MIT.
Dr. SEAMANS. That's correct. I want to make it absolutely clear, Mr. Chairman.
The lecture described the origins and development of the U.S. space program. I attempted to analyze the processes of decisionmaking and implementation involved in our commitment to a manned lunar landing and return in this decade. In this connection I discussed and attempted to evaluate both the competitive and cooperative aspects of space exploration. Finally, I suggested a framework for evaluating research and development programs in terms of our national objectives and then attempted to apply this evaluation process to our Nation's space effort. Since your committee is engaged in studying the management of research and development sponsored by the Federal Government, my statement here this morning will draw heavily on the section of my lecture that relates to the evaluation process and the need for a national agenda for research and development.
Research and development funded by Government must serve national objectives. Over the long run, even basic scientific studies must demonstrate their relevance to the practical needs of the Nation in order to justify continued governmental support. The requirement to demonstrate relevance is particularly important when research and development projects make use of large capital outlays supplied from public funds.
Improvements in communications and education have meant that the American public is better informed and better able to evaluate the costs and benefits of national actions. More than ever before the “man on the street" stands as a constant critic of decisions concerning allocations of public resources. If research and development efforts are to be supported from the national treasury they must demonstrate their usefulness to him. We need to define a national agenda for research and development which can be understood and accepted by the "man on the street."
In the allocation of resources for research and development, each scientific area and every advanced development project has its advocates. At different stages projects are evaluated by various departments or agencies, the Executive Office, committees of Congress, and Congress itself. Where, then, are priorities established !
The American system of government is pluralistic and pragmatic. The decisions involving research and development allocations tend to be made on a piecemeal basis; a system of priorities is an output of, rather than an input to, such decisionmaking. It is true that the Bureau of the Budget and the President, with the support of his science
adviser, play a prominent role in determining the overall pattern of research and development allocations. However, the decentralized nature of American government tends to create a situation whereby decisionmaking remains fragmented; the executive, the legislature, and the public continue to review research and development primarily on a piecemeal basis. Overall management of Federal research and development is so compartmentalized that there can be no assurance that resource allocations are effectively matched to national needs.
What is needed, I believe, is a national agenda for research and development which can serve as a general foundation for the multitude of specific decisions that must be made. Such an agenda should serve as an aid to the pluralistic decentralized system of decisionmaking. In order to plan research and development so that it will have a beneficial effect on our future course, we need to develop a recognized set of national goals.
The agenda, summarized in this statement, is intended as an illustration of the kind of framework needed for decisionmaking purposes. The agenda is not all-inclusive, I am certain. Indeed, many may feel that it overly emphasizes certain aspects of our national Îife at the expense of more important goals. It should, however, serve to illustrate the kind of document which ought to be created by the leaders of Government. In practice, such an agenda must be continuously updated to remain relevant in changing times.
The agenda is organized into seven categories. The order in which the categories appear was decided on the basis of what appeared to be a logical sequence rather than on the basis of which categories were more important; we cannot afford to neglect any of these categories, in my view.
The first of these, understanding, forecasting, and controlling our environment.
Man has contended constantly with the elements, and the battle is far from won. Even now millions of people are left homeless every year; their crops are ruined ; lives are lost; and property worth hundreds of millions of dollars is razed or damaged by storms, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
Meanwhile, man has added to his plight by increasing pollution and congestion that threaten the delicate balance of our ecology. Unless the trend is checked, we are in danger of passing a point of no return when nature can no longer cleanse itself of the pollutants we are pouring into our rivers, lakes, and oceans, and into the air we breathe. (The carbon dioxide content of the earth's atmosphere, for example, is rising at the rate of 0.2 percent per year.)
There is a need to understand the physical processes that influence our environment. With increased understanding, we can better predict and eventually control these processes. Ultimately air, land, and water pollution must be reduced ; adverse weather must be predicted and controlled; and our natural surrounding must be preserved.
The second item, supplying basic resources: Food, fuel, minerals, and water. For millions of years there has been a continuing struggle to obtain enough to eat. Even today this struggle has not ended; millions of people
around the globe are starving or near starvation. Meanwhile, our population continues to multiply exponentially. Today the
world has over 3 billion human inhabitants, and this number will grow, according to a present estimate, to over 6 billion by the year 2000.
Supplies of fuel, minerals, and water have also failed to keep pace with the demands of a rapidly expanding population. Much of the earth's surface is covered by water, but it requires processing and distribution to accommodate it to man's needs. The supplies of coal, gas, petroleum, and many other materials are diminishing; hence, means must be found to create new supplies and/or to find substitutes.
The third point, improving the quality of life.
All seven categories of this agenda affect the life of the man in the street. But this category perhaps affects him most personally. Add a question in here: What can be done to keep the alarming population explosion within bounds?
An individual cannot achieve his full potential without good health and appropriate education. People cannot be expected to live in squalid conditions with inadequate housing and insufficient goods and services, nor should they be subjected to fear of theft or bodily harm.
The causes of crime have deep roots. Consequently, major efforts are needed if the causes of crime and the criminal are to be brought under control.
A society in which many are affluent and most are adequately housed, clothed, and fed cannot countenance a minority without adequate subsistence. Ways must be found to provide welfare on a more equitable basis, so that the recipient is inspired rather than degraded. Surely domestic tranquility can be assured only by improving the quality of life of all our citizens.
Fourth, improving transportation. Roadways, particularly in and around metropolitan areas, are becoming hopelessly clogged. Aircraft flights are delayed because of traffic congestion en route, to and near airports, and because taxiways and terminals are inadequate to accommodate the burgeoning volume of travelers. Near-misses of aircraft in flight are much too frequent, and catastrophic collisions have occurred.
Just recently I read an article that indicated that in the past calendar year, 1968, the FAA indicates there were over 2,200 near midair collisions and there were 35 collisions.
Delays in transit are often greater than the direct flying time; these delays are expensive for operators and infuriating to passengers. More effort must be expended on the development of new types of air, land, and seagoing vehicles. Consideration must also be given to passenger loading and unloading, and to more adequate en route control.
Fifth, improving communications. Much travel could be avoided if communications were improved. Switchboards are often clogged, and delays in placing calls are frequent. I am amazed in the past year, while my family has been split between here and Cambridge. Sometimes I have been here and they have been there and sometimes vice versa, and it is seldom that you can place a call in the evening and have it go through between these two points.
Individual communications require more than written or voice transmissions; additional information for the visual senses is required to resolve delicate issues, and to plan and schedule complex programs.
Here I am getting at the need not only to be able to talk back and forth, but to be able to visually look at charts and even to look at facial
expressions which sometimes in delicate negotiations are more important than what is really said.
Greater bandwidth is needed, but electromagnetic interference is already acute; the allocation of the frequency spectrum is a major national and international problem. A modern society cannot endure without effective communications.
My sixth point is encouraging economic growth. The role of the he still has the need to be changing rapidly as technology advances, but he still has the need to be creatively useful. Each man must have something that he is doing that he considers important.
Education and motivation cannot provide this opportunity unless challenging jobs become available in increasing numbers. Most important, we must provide constructive incentive for today's youth. Our economy must grow so we must invest capital and manpower in programs for the future.
My seventh point, assisting international development and providing national security. The welfare of the United States is linked to international development; we in this country cannot live in splendid isolation from the rest of the world. We are intimately tied to the rest of the world for reasons that are economic, cultural, and moral. At this stage of international development, however, we must also be vigilant lest our national security be threatened. President Nixon stated the issues succinctly in his inaugural address : "With those who are willing to join, let us cooperate to reduce the burden of crime, to strengthen the structure of peace, to lift up the poor and the hungry. But to all who would be tempted by weakness, let us leave no doubt that we will be as strong as we need to be for as long as we need to be.”
The preceding list is illustrative of the kind of framework needed to evaluate research and development projects. Competing projects should be assessed on the basis of their potential and actual contributions to the fulfillment of fundamental national needs.
The real question is this: Can the Nation identify and rank its needs in such a way as to permit responsible Goverment action toward their fulfillment? The statement of needs implies consideration of the future as well as the present.
Let me interject here, Mr. Chairman, that to me one of the lessons of the Apollo 11 flight is that we were able to identify an objective that could be sustained for a period of 8 years, starting in 1961, leading to the flight in 1969. The objective was one that could be understood; some people may question whether it was wise or not. But it was a simple objective that people could identify with, that people could work on, that people could understand. And we must have these kinds of objectives, perhaps never again quite as elegant as this one, but we still must break down our total objectives into specific individual objectives that people can work on.
National needs must be understood if we are to become a mature society capable of making good decisions for the right reasons. But, as I stated in my lecture, I don't believe that centralizing research and development decisions in a new agency is an effective solution.
The decentralized nature of the American system of resource allocation is desirable, provided we can make each agency and department of Government responsible for attaining some portion of our national goals and objectives. Each must have within its organization a scientific and technical capability necessary to manage research and development related to its mission. A new agency responsible for all research and development would destroy this capability, which is the strength of the present system and provides the flexibility needed to manage the total research and development effort.
In the final analysis, the effectiveness of a research and development program is most influenced by the overall level of confidence of the personnel involved and by the goodness of fit” between individual talents and responsibilities. Highly competent scientists, engineers and administrators are in great demand. Î'o attract such professionals, prospective assignments must be challenging. The ability of the space program to attract competent personnel cannot be understood apart from the challenge of the task. Similarly, success in attracting competent personnel in other action programs will largely depend on the extent to which such programs will provide challenging assignments.
Nevertheless, we can neither plan, budget, nor implement national research and development programs effectively, until we establish a recognized set of national objectives. A national agenda for research and development is needed as a guide for both Congress and the executive operating agencies, but should leave methods and procedures to those more intimately involved in the work. In this way, we can continue to benefit from the diversity and decentralized control of our scientific activities while consciously, rationally, and productively allocating our large, but limited, resources for the betterment of our society.
That concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Brown. Thank you, Dr. Seamans. That is a very valuable and provocative statement, with a number of excellent ideas. I tend to think, however, in listening to the complete statement, that feel that there is little need for change; at least you haven't suggested any specific changes, which might bear upon the methodology for achieving some of the things that you have suggested as necessary, which has been a characteristic
of the previous witnesses also. We are honored to have the chairman of the full committee here this morning. I wonder if he would like to make a statement or ask a question of the witness.
Chairman MILLER. I am very happy to be here to greet Dr. Seamans, who is an old friend. He is wearing another hat now, but we will never let him forget his relationship with this committee over the years.
Dr. SEAMANS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am very happy to be here.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Mosher?
I, too, am delighted to have Dr. Seamans here. I should think he would be feeling wonderfully good these days considering his part in the Apollo 11 achievement.
I am bothered somewhat by the question implied in George Brown's comment. Your statement says, “The real question is simply this: Can the Nation identify and rank its needs in such a way as to permit
responsible Government action toward their fulfillment?” I repeat, “The real question is simply this.” It seems to me that is a little oversimplification.