THE HONORABLE JOHN H. GIBBONS
AAAS KEYNOTE ADDRESS, FEBRUARY 18, 1994
GRACE OR GOOD WORKS?
A STRATEGY FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE '90's
Friends, colleagues, I have served my probationary year in the rough andtumble world of White House political decisions so I appreciate the opportunityto meet with you. When I left OTA, I noted that I felt surrounded by friendsbec ause in that job I provided lots of options on tough questions but nevermade decisions or recommendations, in which its easy to lose friends! Thatseems like ages ago. I am glad to see so many of you still willing to smile atme!
I ply my trade in an Administration that has a clear cut, ambitious agenda forthis Nation in the 21st Century. We are working to ensure access tohigh-quality health care for all Americans. We are initiating cooperativeefforts with industry aimed at creating good j obs and helping put an end tolimitless dependence on welfare. We are proposing education and trainingprograms to prepare people to take those jobs and to enjoy the fruits of ourprosperity. We are focusing on community empowerment, which will enable u s torejuvenate our cities and eliminate much of the senseless violence thatthreatens so many futures. We are reaching out to the rest of the world --through trade agreements and through development assistance programs -- tobring prosperity home to ou r people and create a stable international climatein which democracy can flourish.
My job in this endeavor is two-fold. First, I must help to fulfill thepotential for science and technology to enable us to reach these overarching,preeminent go als of the President. Secondly, I must help nourish the S&Tenterprise, so that its historic stream of contributions to national wellbeingcontinues to flow and becomes ever more effective. OSTP and several leadingscience agencies and institutions recently hosted a Forum on Science in theNational Interest intended to help with that latter responsibility -- toarticulate the Administration's rationale for strong public support ofinvestments in science and technology and to develop the road map for reachingour goal of world leadership in science, mathematics, and engineering.
Throughout this century, we have experienced dramatic changes in socialstructures, political regimes, and industrial development . . . in many waysprofoundly driven by scientific and technological advances. Today, the nuclearstand-off of the Cold War has ceded ground, to the delight of all. But thoselessened tensions have unmasked and probably exacerbated the problem ofproliferation of other sophisticated weapo nry. The globalization of economiesmay have largely ended the debate between capitalism and communism, but it hasnot quelled the ethnic and religious tensions that constitute continuingchallenges to the world community. The United States, the only re mainingdefense "superpower," lost in the process economic strength and technologicaldominance in many markets, which forces a reexamination of our civiliantechnology base. These changes now compel a comprehensive rethinking of howscience and technolo gy are practiced -- if we -- scientists, engineers, andscience and technology policy makers -- hope to play a robust role in the 21stCentury. We need a new model that recognizes the multiple feedback loopsbetween science, technology, and our Nation's wellbeing to displace thetraditional linear paradigm -- i.e., science leads to technology which leads tomarkets. Though, as Machiavelli warned, nothing is more doubtful of successthan creation of a new system, let me describe, briefly, why I am noneth elessoptimistic about the outcome of this endeavor.
Past is prologue, and the course of science and technology in this centuryreveals them to be, on the whole, positive forces for change. Advances in suchareas as aeronautics, information techn ologies, and molecular biology havehelped to create enormous wealth, to enhance access to people, places, andideas, and to eradicate disease and improve health. As scientists, weconfidently anticipate similar displays of the tremendous power of scienc e andtechnology for as long as bright, inquiring minds are encouraged and valued.
But some people, influential leaders among them, do not share this confidence.Some argue that nations have blindly followed a course mapped out by theinstitutions of science and technology rather than using science and technologyto reach destinations defined by common values. Some view technology, inparticular, with great ambivalence and fault science for failing to properlyanticipate its negative consequences . Some believe that the global economycreated by advances in transportation and communication has vastly increasedthe distance between the "haves" and "have nots" of the world. Others: thatthe technologies of industrial society have placed the whole planetaryenvironment in jeopardy. They wonder whether the resources of science andtechnology can be efficiently and promptly transformed to address newlyprominent concerns: a declining standard of living; mounting debt; loss of themiddle class; trad e deficits; inequities in health care; burgeoning population;environmental degradation; and the ever-present conflicts among nations.
Scientists and engineers must address these concerns. It would be foolish toask someone else to do it for us . . . or to claim our work is irrelevant. Ourcontributions to defense, the economy, and quality of life have been recognizedand rewarded for several decades. We do not enjoy a permanent state of grace,however. We must constantly earn our salvation -- in the form of generoussupport for fundamental and applied research and development -- from ourbenefactors. We must articulate a vision that broadly but explicitly linksscience and technology to national and international goals . . . including thego al . . . the grandest of all adventures . . . of penetrating the unknown.
We received good counsel on this duty from several congressional speakers atthe recent Science Forum. Senators Mikulski, Rockefeller, and Harkin andCongressman George Bro wn -- all thoughtful and influential participants inS&T policymaking -- advocated investment in research as part of a strategyfor advancing the Nation's goals. All eschewed attempts to micromanage science-- they want to encourage its bedrock value s of creativity, quality, andrisk-taking. But they all demand from scientists and engineers a more tangiblesense of responsibility to the citizens who fund their work.
The American people remain generally supportive of public investment inscie nce and technology. They accept Vannevar Bush's conclusion that "withoutscientific progress, no amount of achievement in other directions can insureour health, prosperity, and security as a Nation." They know that microchipshave changed our li ves. They recognize -- if only in the abstract --that those extraordinary devices resulted from the exquisite convergence of ourfundamental understanding of condensed matter, physics, microscopy, materialsscience, and chemistry to name a few. Similar ly, they know the biotechnologyindustry -- which is transforming the way we treat disease and produce andprocess food -- grew out of fundamental research on DNA (originally justifiedas war on cancer) and microbiology, and that the industry now depends not onlyon investment capital and helpful regulatory policies, but on continuedfundamental discoveries in molecular biology and genetics.
But our national commitment to Vannevar Bush's premise has fluctuated overthe years. The tension betwee n mission agency needs and the need to ensure theoverall strength of the research base has waxed and waned in response to eventsinternal and external to the Nation, including Sputnik, the threat ofaggression, problems in our cities, and the energy and environmental crises.
In many ways, it appears our deck of cards is stacked in favor of continuedsupport for science and technology. But there are wild cards -- particularlythe federal debt -- that can trump what looks to be a sure hand. Over the lastdecade, 80 percent of Americans experienced a loss of real income. At the sametime, our debt has grown so large we're no longer simply mortgaging ourchildren's future, it's become a multi-generational affair. The U.S. lead inmany sectors of the international economy has steadily diminished. The publicwe call upon for support wants to know: Where were science and technologywhile this was happening? Can science and technology help resolve theseproblems?
Faced with these question s -- and with the once-dominant Cold War rationalebehind us -- scientists and engineers must take an active part inreestablishing a social contract appropriate for the new era. We findourselves smack in the middle of the predicament described so well by AntonioGramsci: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying andthe new cannot yet be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbidsymptoms appear." We have spent much of the past year developing a strategyto support sc ience and harness technology for national purposes . . .on relieving those morbid symptoms. A 6-point strategy for science andtechnology has emerged:
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY
First, we will maintain R &D funding as a priorityinvestment. We are fighting hard to protect the federal investment inscience research and development from the budget-cutting axe -- advocating theimportance of investing in our future even as we cut into the deficit .
We believe, though, that our R&D investment portfolio must adapt tochanging times. Defense build up and focus on Cold War scenarios must yield toa new force structure reflecting changed world conditions, to foreign policiesthat aim more directly at the underlying causes of conflict, and to anincreasing emphasis on dual (civilian-military) use as a critical considerationfor the defense technology base.
In the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 1995, the commitment toR &D is evident. In the face of a smaller Federal budget, total R&Dspending will increase by 3%. The civilian share of R&D, with dual usespending included, comes in at 47%, bringing us closer to our goal of at leastequalizing civilian and d efense demands on the R&D investment by 1998.
Next, we are increasing our focus on key national goals. Forexample, we propose to increase spending on health research by 4%, onenvironmental technologies by 11%, and on energy co nservation R&D by 42%.The Department of Commerce, which through the National Institute for Standardsand Technology -- or NIST -- runs many of our most programs of technologypartnerships with industry, is slated for a 31% increase in its budget.
Point 3, we are ensuring this Nation's leadership in fundamentalresearch. The National Science Foundation's research budget goes up by6% in the President's request. (NIH by almost 5%.) A 4% increase in R&Dsupport to university researchers is also part of the '95 budget. Thesenumbers reflect a willingness on the part of the Administration to experienceextra pain elsewhere in the budget in order to support research anddevelopment.
The force pushing industrial commerc ialization and the leading edge ofresearch closer together -- the drive for international competitiveness --reinforces the conviction, within government and industry, that we mustmaintain a strong base in fundamental science and engineering research. B utstrong support does not mean that basic research escapes the requirement ofreform. We've run up against limits on resources even as many basic researchprojects grow bigger and more expensive. In a time of limited resources, wemust shake off the ex pectation that science budgets will consistently andindefinitely expand more rapidly than economic growth. As Herb Stein, a notedeconomist has said, "That which cannot go on forever, must come to an end."
I believe exponentially expanding bud get requests contributed substantially tothe demise of the SSC. Though many members of Congress were enthusiastic aboutthe scientific value of SSC, they were skeptical from the beginning of theEnergy Department's ability to control costs and successfu lly obtain majorinternational participation. The vote to terminate SSC should not beinterpreted as Congress turning its back on high energy physics, specifically,or science, generally, but as a clear signal that we must use resources wiselyand intern ationalize "Big Science" as much as possible, which I will discussmore a bit later.
Fourth, we intend to improve strategic coordination of S&Tprograms. You see in the FY '95 budget that we have set new fundingpriorities. But long-term success in affecting funding priorities requires apresidential mandate and close cooperation between the Administration and theCongress, as well as between the public and private sectors. President Clintonhas established two new institution s of governance, the National Science andTechnology Council -- NSTC -- and the President's Committee of Advisors onScience and Technology -- PCAST -- to help us protect the power of science andharness the power technology.
The President chairs the NSTC, which includes the Vice President, CabinetSecretaries and agency heads with responsibility for significant science andtechnology programs, and key White House Officials.
One of the most critical tasks the NSTC will undertake is prepara tion of anintegrated overview of federal investment in research and development. TheCouncil will prepare coordinated, strategic priority recommendations foraccomplishing national objectives in conjunction with agency missions.
The NSTC will al so work on critical S&T policy areas beyond budgetconsiderations. For instance:
Environmental Technologies. Through the NSTC, the Administration isworking to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that the multipleprograms in r esearch, development, and commercialization of environmentaltechnologies are effectively coordinated to achieve maximum environmentalbenefit and economic impact.
Bioethics. Views throughout the Nation -- in the private sector,legislati ve branch, and executive branch -- have converged on the need forhigh-level attention to bioethical issues. As a result, a Bioethics PolicyCommittee is being formed under the NSTC, and an advisory committee will becreated to inform the workings of the interagency group.
A fifth point in the strategy -- and an adjunct to point 4 -- we areexpanding our partnerships with the private sector. As I mentioned,NIST has a central mission responsibility to work with industry in promotin geconomic growth and in creating jobs. Other agencies share thisresponsibility. For instance, the Technology Reinvestment Project, acenterpiece of the President's defense conversion program, is chaired by ARPA,within the Defense Department, but oper ated jointly by six agencies. LikeNIST, it has been remarkably successful in creating partnerships with industry,universities, and State and local agencies for the development of newtechnologies and deployment of existing best-practice technologies.< p>
The great increase in cost-shared Cooperative Research and DevelopmentAgreements (CRADAS) between industry and our government laboratories is alsotestament to our commitment to U.S. competitiveness and economic growth. Morethan 2000 CRADAs hav e already been signed, and we expect hundreds more to beconcluded this year.
As I mentioned before, the President has also established a new PCAST toensure private sector advice to the NSTC. Involvement of distinguishedindividuals from industr y, education, and research institutions with the NSTCwill be essential to developing successful science and technology policies thathelp American businesses achieve sustainable growth and create high qualityjobs, as well as to maintaining our academic and research institutions' worldleadership in science, engineering, and mathematics.
With these new institutions, I believe the Administration can improve theoverall effectiveness of federal science and technology for national and globalobjec tives. We may remedy in some small way the dilemma framed so eloquentlyby Edna St. Vincent Millay:
Upon this gifted age,
in its dark hour,
Falls from the sky a meteoric shower of facts.
They lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wis dom enough to leach us of our ill is daily spun
But there exists no loom to weave them into fabric.
The NSTC provides a structure in which to prioritize the many legitimatedemands on the public's R&D dollar. It assures a forum where crit icalnational needs cannot be pushed aside by urgent and parochial agency needs. Itcan sensitize agencies to the advantages of symbiosis -- of becoming warp orwoof -- over isolated pursuit of objectives.
Even without our new institutions full y in place, we are beginning in theUnited States to overcome the inertia of the situation we inherited 10 shortmonths ago. For example:
We've forged the clean car initiative, a historic alliance with the nation'sbig three automakers to develop a new generation of high performance cars andtrucks that are affordable and virtually pollution free.
We've reorganized the Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Department ofDefense and launched the Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) to stimulate thepublic and private sector transition from defense to dual use technologies thathave both military and civilian applications.
We've expanded threefold the funding for the Advanced Technology Project topromote industry's development of high-risk, high payoff commercialtechnologies. ATP explicitly abandons the outdated emphasis on serendipitousspinoffs from the military and focuses directly on the objective of civilsector economic growth and competitiveness.
We've initiated a network of manufacturing extension centers across the nationto work with State governments to assist small and medium-sized manufacturers,many of whom are still using 1950's technologies. These centers disseminate tomanufacturers information on new technologies and best practices.
We've developed an action plan for the National Information Infrastructure.This infrastructure -- computers, computer data banks, fax machines,telephones, video displays -- has as its lifeline a high-speed fiber -opticnetwork. The technology is improving at an unprecedented rate, expanding bothour imaginations for its use and its effectiveness.
While Federal technology programs are important for the new public/privatepartnership, they cannot succeed wi thout change in other government policies.Many existing fiscal, trade, and regulatory policies stymie rather thanencourage investment in new technologies and products. The Administrationintends to change that. Already:
We've obtained a 3-yea r extension of the Research and Experimentation(R&E) tax credit, and we're still working to make it permanent. We've alsosecured a reduced capital gains tax for investments in small businesses.
We've liberalized export controls on computers , telecommunications, and othertechnologically sophisticated equipment that will free up 35 billion dollars inhigh-tech exports.
We have aggressively pursued bilateral and multilateral trade agreements suchas NAFTA, U.S.-Japan, and the Uruguay Round of GATT that will expand access toforeign markets for America's high-tech companies. New inroads with the Pacificeconomies also hold great promise.
Now to the sixth and final point in our S&T strategy, seekingopportunities for international cooperation. The squeeze on resources,combined with the inherent nature of some science and technology projects thatdrives up their cost and complexity, also forces us toward greaterinternationalization of science and technology projects -- particularly "BigScience," but all of science to some extent. It grows harder and harder forany single nation to justify projects such as mapping the human genome,developing fusion power, exploring space, understanding the intricacies ofp lanet earth, or rooting out the mysteries of particle physics and the BigBang. At the same time, financial and political barriers limit any onenation's ability to deal with problems . . . for which science and technologyoffer important relief . . . su ch as global climate change or human populationgrowth. We require better mechanisms for multinational planning andcooperative decision-making and multi-year commitment to action. Ideally thesemechanisms should influence national budgeting for R&D . We intend toexplore efforts in joint planning and implementation for one-of-a-kind researchfacilities, creation of more formal international networks and consortia inselected fields -- capable of negotiating agreed divisions of labor -- anddevelopm ent of more multinational research institutions.
Of course, internationalizing scientific endeavor simultaneously benefits andcomplicates things: The personal relationships built by scientists andengineers contribute greatly to international un derstanding; Cooperativeefforts often yield larger results than the sum of individual efforts. Andinternationalizing science holds great promise for decreasing the huge economicdisparities that exist among Nations. Yet issues of who pays, whopartic ipates, and location, among others, can be so difficult to resolve thatthe ill will threatens accords outside the S&T arena. There is an inherenttension between scientific cooperation and economic competition as sciencegrows ever closer to economi c performance. Improving our ability to managesuch complexities, including the ability to make decade-length commitments ofresources, will be an important focus of the National Science and TechnologyCouncil.
Man y scientists fear the half-century political tide of support has turned onthem. They sense a sea change, driven by hard economic times and the end ofthe "evil empire," and know of no safe harbor. But I believe we should acceptthese changes as challe nges and opportunities, not as threats. The emphasis onstrategic paths for science and technology does not deny the importance ofbasic research. Rather, it encourages scientists to join the national attemptto articulate the values and priorities for this new era and to articulate theproper direct and indirect roles for S&T in achieving the goals implicit inthose values.
People want a sustainable future. They want a growing economy with morehigh-skill, high-wage jobs; a cleaner environ ment where energy efficiency andinnovative industrial processes enabled by technological ingenuity increaseprofits and reduces pollution; a stronger, more competitive private sector ableto maintain leadership in critical world markets; an educational s ystem whereevery student is challenged to reach his or her full potential; nationalsecurity reflecting a world that has been made safe for diversity; and aninspired scientific and technological research community focused on ensuringnot just our nation al security but on increasing our intellectual capital andimproving our quality of life. Scientists and engineers can help enunciate thevision that replaces Cold War dominance and help direct science and technologytoward realizing that vision.
We cannot forget that the reasons scientists do science are seldom the reasonsthat the general public funds science. We must define our quest in terms thatallow those who would be our champions to play that role with vigor andcredibility. I look for