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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: (i) 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 administration. If he doesn't have these, he should blame the university, of course, and not the Government. He needs only funds to purchase
his equipment and supplies, to pay his graduate assistants and laboratory technicians, to cover the costs of travel to scientific meetings and help defray the costs of publishing the results of his work. He looks to the Government for help—and, from his point of view, what does he
Well, he usually finds that there are several Government agencies that support academic research in his field. He knows that any proposal he submits will be judged by each agency on the basis of its scientific merits by a panel or review committee of experts in the field. He knows that if the panel thinks his proposal is a good one, it will be recommended for support. He knows, too, that if agency No. 1, say, turns him down for lack of interest in his field or for lack of funds, he can apply to agency No. 2. If he eventually gets financial support, he is quite happy-with his only gripe being that the process maybe was long drawn out and required a lot of paperwork-and that he must now do quite a lot more paperwork to submit the required reports and satisfy the university and Government accounting offices.
What fault then does he find with the Government organization for science? Does he worry that it, as an organization, is not efficient ! Well, not much-unless the organization took too long to process his grant or to negotiate the exact amount of the budget. Does he worry if the agency that supports him is not "coordinated” with other agencies? Not much. He knows it is his job to coordinate his work with that of others working in his field. He would not be caught dead doing an experiment that someone else is doing or has done so he reads the current literature, writes or phones his colleagues at other institutions, promptly reports his own results to them-knowing they will return the courtesy—and he publishes his results promptly. It is his job to do the coordination between his work and the work of other scientists in his field throughout the world.
Now, would any change in Government structure help him—the successful working scientist? This question must be seriously considered before radical new structures are approved.
But suppose the time comes when the scientist is told that there are insufficient funds to finance his project, or to finance it adequately or at a level compared to previous years, to allow him to meet the rising costs? That, of course, is when it hurts. That is when he complains about Congress, the Bureau of the Budget, the administration, the science adviser and anyone else who might be in sight. Not only is the scientist hurt, but the national scientific enterprise is poorer because his talents are not being used, or not being fully used.
Well, so much for the scientist's view looking upward to the Government.
We might now ask how the president of the university and the chief business Officer feel about the Government management of science. If their principal faculty members are adequately financed, their complaints will be more about the contract and grant procedures and the red tape, or about the adequacy or inadequacy of overhead reimbursement, or about the need for general institutional grants to cover the hidden costs of supporting university research and graduate study, or the need for free funds to finance the work of young investigators with bright ideas who do not yet have the reputation to compete for
limited funds with their more famous colleagues. Even these complaints of the university administrators could be satisfied by changing existing regulations or by new legislation. They do not require a change
in Government structure. Why then do some university people think there should be a change in Government structure? As far as I can tell, there is but one princi. pal reason: a more coherent or more centralized structure, some befieve, will be able to speak more effectively for science in the administration and in the Congress and, hence, to secure adequate funding. This is an important matter, and—if true would be a powerful argument for a more centralized structure—such as, say, a Department of Science. But would such a single agency be more effective in dealing with its two authorization and two appropriation subcommittees in the House and Senate than several agencies with their several committees? I must leave the answer to that to those of
who are more experienced in the behavior of congressional committees. My limited experience leads me to have some grave doubts.
But if university people have only the one argument of leverage or funding to propose a different science structure, why is it that many of us in Government are so carefully examining this problem?
There are several reasons. First, we, in Government, like to see neat organizational and management structures. The present multiplicity is admittedly confusing to Government administrators and legislators. We worry about coordination and efficiency and budgetary management.
Second, we find the distressing fact that in a number of fields of science of broad national interest—such as, marine science, atmospheric science, environmental science, and other areas—it is hard to bring the several agencies with responsibilities in such fields together to implement an adequate and an adequately balanced national program.
The various mission agencies have other responsibilities and priorities, and these may not add up to an adequate total program. From the point of view of my own responsibilities, this is a most serious defect in our present system. I will return to this later.
Let me digress now for a moment to remind you again that I have so far confined my attention to the problems of science rather than technology—and especially to academic science.
The management of science and of technology present very different problems. In science, particularly basic science, the individual research worker at the bench is the only possible “manager." As I have already said, not the department chairman, not the university president or director of research, and surely not a Government official, can manage the creative process. Administrators can help the scientist by providing funds, doing the necessary purchasing and accounting and payroll handling and all the rest. But all these functions must only support and not direct the work of the scientist himself. It is true that when a large and expensive accelerator or telescope or other facility is involved, the chief scientist or laboratory director must perform a management function to see that the facility is effectively and productively used. But even he must be the kind of a manager who can enlist cooperation among his colleagues—still leaving the individual investigators freedom to direct their own experiments. Elaborate man