Testimony of John H. Gibbons

Statement of

The Honorable John H. Gibbons,
Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy

before the

Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs, HUD, and
Independent Agencies Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives

April 30, 1996

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) budget request for Fiscal Year 1997.

The Federal Government has an indispensable role to play in investing in science and technology (S&T) - - a role critical to the country's economy, national security, environment, health, and other social needs. The post-Cold War era is one of intense global economic competition in which S&T are critical to success. Our country also faces new national security challenges, including threats from the proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons, regional conflicts, global environmental degradation, and even newly emerging infectious diseases.

Fortunately, the pace at which scientific advances are being made is unprecedented. The Federal role in these advances is especially important. Our Nation supports a balanced mix of S&T investments (i.e., basic research, applied research, and technology development) and must continue to do so since the steps involved in technological innovation are so profoundly interwoven.

In addition to investing in scientific research and education, the Clinton Administration has initiated or expanded public-private partnerships to spur innovations with broad economic impact and high social rates of return. These partnerships have traditionally served our Nation well, not only, for example, in building our transportation infrastructure, but in nurturing new types of technological infrastructures such as information highways and environmental monitoring systems. The partnerships enable the private sector to translate new knowledge into novel technologies that benefit both its bottom line and society at large. Enhancing the Federal-University partnership is also crucial if our Nation is going to maintain its S&T advantage.

The Administration treats S&T as high-leverage investments in America's future. Investments in S&T contribute to a growing economy with more high-skill, high-wage jobs for American workers; a healthier population; a cleaner environment where energy efficiency, information technology, and advanced technology increase profits and reduce pollution; a stronger, more competitive private sector able to maintain U.S. leadership in critical world markets; an educational system in which every student is challenged to prepare for the new global economy; and an inspired scientific and technological research community focused on ensuring our national security, on improving the quality of life for Americans today and for our children tomorrow, and on successfully meeting global problems through cooperation with other countries. The most important measure of success will be our ability to make a difference in the lives of the American people, to harness science and technology to improve the quality of life and the economic strength of our nation. Simply put, we must invest in S&T wisely for the good of the country. Since our investments in S&T have paid such rich dividends, sustaining U.S. leadership in S&T is a cornerstone of the President's vision for America.

OSTP supports the Administration's S&T objectives by providing authoritative scientific and technological information, analysis, advice, and recommendations to the President, Vice President, White House Offices, Executive Branch Agencies, and Congress; participating in the formulation, coordination, and implementation of national and international policies and programs that involve S&T; maintaining and promoting the health and vitality of the U.S. S&T infrastructure; and coordinating research and development efforts across the Federal government to maximize the return on the public's investment and to ensure that resources are used efficiently and appropriately.

OSTP Budget Request

I ask today for your continued support. OSTP's budget request of $4,932,000 for FY 1997 will enable the agency to fulfill its responsibilities to use S&T to enhance the economy, the environment, health, education, and national security. The requested FY 1997 budget reflects a reduction of $49,000 from the FY 1996 request. Personnel costs constitute the largest portion of OSTP's budget. The portion of the budget devoted to adinistrative expense reflects further reduction so as to meet Adinistration goals of a more cost-effective government. OSTP has a critical role to play in coordinating science and technology policy for the Executive Branch. The budget requested for FY 1997 reflects our comitment to operate efficiently and cost-effectively without compromising the most essential of the office--high quality personnel.

In addition to my role as Director of OSTP, I serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. In this capacity I support the activities of the President's National Science and Technology Council and co-chair the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. I also serve on the National Economic Council and the Domestic Policy Council (DPC). The Associate Director for Science is also appointed to the DPC staff, and the Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs is also jointly appointed to the National Security Council staff. Let me turn now to a brief discussion of the important role played by the National Science and Technology Council and the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.

National Science and Technology Council

Science and technology are complex, multidimensional pursuits, and the Federal investment in S&T is varied and dispersed across many agencies. Traditional single agency, single disciplinary approaches to problem solving can no longer adequately address many complex S&T issues. Previous multi- agency S&T coordinating efforts helped to shape federal goals and policies, but they did not have the authority to establish priorities, direct policy, or participate fully in the budget process. In this Administration, S&T coordinating mechanisms have been elevated, receiving increased attention and involvement of the President, Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, agency heads, and key White House officials. Thus, the United States now has a two- year-old Cabinet-level body dedicated to coordinating overall S&T strategies--the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).

The NSTC is a coalition of agencies vested with the authority regarding policy and budgetary matters that previous coordinating bodies lacked. OSTP works through the NSTC to produce R&D strategies and reports, convene workshops, establish initiatives to guide federal investments in new technologies, and recommend presidential decisions. NSTC coordinates efforts among agencies, divides tasks and shares resources to advance S&T. Although each agency, to accomplish its mission, must have R&D directed to its particular needs, there are some commonalities in the S&T needs of all the agencies. Overarching national goals typically cross agency boundaries. The NSTC provides a structure in which to prioritize the many legitimate demands on the public's R&D dollar. It assures a forum in which critical national needs cannot be pushed aside by immediate and parochial agency needs. NSTC sensitizes agencies to the advantage of symbiosis over isolated pursuit of objectives.

The NSTC is responsible for:

NSTC routinely seeks input from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including private industry, academia, state and local governments, and the public. Under the auspices of the NSTC, natural and social scientists, engineers, economists, and policymakers are collaboratively addressing national S&T problems. This venue for direct communications cuts through bureaucracy, and aids the pursuit of common goals and objectives. By leveraging resources, the NSTC has reduced redundancies, saving the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. As just one example, the decision to converge the polar environmental satellite systems of the Departments of Defense and Commerce will eliminate duplication of capability, saving an expected $300 million by the turn of the century, with additional savings thereafter.

To meet the Nation's goals in the years ahead -- and to continue meeting them as the goals evolve -- requires that we set priorities for R&D now, with a farsighted vision for the future because much of the S&T enterprise is inherently a multi-decade process. Even within the science community, it can take decades to recognize the significance of a scientific discovery. The U.S. Council on Competitiveness recently released a report--Endless Frontier, Limited Resources -- that concludes that, "R&D drives the process of innovation that underpins our nation's economic well-being and national security." The report's title is intended to convey a key point -- "the promises and expectations of R&D are increasing, but the resources needed to sustain the R&D effort are decreasing." The Council, whose members are broadly drawn from American industry, labor, and universities, posits that priorities must be set and collaboration achieved among the whole range of S&T stakeholders. The NSTC serves as the mechanism for providing the vision, deriving priorities, and collaboratively advancing the federal S&T agenda. By creating an integrated S&T organization, the NSTC enables the Administration to maintain productive research and development activity within each S&T-dependent agency while simultaneously achieving the efficiencies of a cross-linked system. This crosslinking among agencies with complementary missions facilitates a balanced mix of S&T investments.

President's Committee of Advisors
on Science and Technology

OSTP provides support to the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST advises the President and the NSTC, providing input from outside the federal sector, to ensure that national needs remain an overarching guide. It provides feedback about federal programs and actively advises the President and the NSTC about S&T issues of national importance. PCAST members are distinguished individuals from industry, education and research institutions, and other nongovernmental organizations. Three members are Nobel Prize winners. The PCAST's diversity and talent are an invaluable resource for identifying and evaluating S&T issues of national concern and for developing successful S&T policies. John Young, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, co-chairs PCAST with me.

PCAST issued four reports to the President in 1995 on critical issues facing the federal S&T program. One, for example, titled Report of the PCAST Panel on U.S.-Russian Cooperation to Protect, Control, and Account for Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials, served as a catalyst for drafting language for a U.S.-Russia summit statement on expanding fissile materials cooperation. After some negotiation, President Clinton and President Yeltsin issued a statement from the summit calling for accelerated and expanded cooperation to secure and account for nuclear materials, and directing the Gore- Chernomyrdin Commission to prepare a joint report on additional steps that should be taken. Working closely with OSTP staff, the National Security Council prepared a Presidential Decision Directive highlighting the urgency and importance of this problem, and directing agencies to implement the recommendations of the PCAST report.

Goals of Federal Science and
Technology Policies and Programs

President Clinton's vision for the future of S&T is one in which all Americans have an opportunity to gain from the knowledge and benefits derived through S&T activities, and one in which business, government, and universities work together on a wide range of S&T issues that range from unlocking the secrets of the universe to improving the quality of our daily lives. The President gives special emphasis to investment activities, such as research and education, which provide a key source of innovation and means to achieve national aspirations. Consistent with this vision, the President announced in his first month in office that the nation's S&T policies and programs would be directed toward three basic goals:

The Administration's six key R&D goals, reflective of overarching Presidential themes, are:

In support of the Administration's goals, the nine NSTC committees developed principles and priorities to give direction to the research and development process for FY 1997. The FY 1997 R&D policy principles direct the agencies to:

On April 28, 1995, Alice M. Rivlin, the Director of OMB, and I issued joint budget guidance to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies to convey the guiding principles developed by the NSTC. Agencies were requested to reflect these principles and priorities in their FY 1997 budget submittal. The guidance was similar to that issued in 1994 by Leon Panetta and me. The joint guidance of the last two years reflects a significant shift in the way the federal research and development enterprise is addressed.

1995 Accomplishments

Before concluding, it is appropriate that I take some time to provide a sample of the Office's accomplishments over the past year. (We have submitted for the record a document fully summarizing our Fiscal Year 1995 accomplishments.) OSTP has been instrumental in shaping our nation's science and technology policy; not only as it relates to Federal S&T activities, but also to partnerships between the Federal government and States, universities, and industry. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has been an invaluable partner with OSTP in developing interagency evaluations and forging consensus on many crucial S&T issues.

National Security and International Affairs: Working through the NSTC, OSTP developed the U.S.'s first National Security Science and Technology Strategy. This strategy presents our approach to applying S&T to our national security goals -- preserving a strong and ready military, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, strengthening economic security, and mitigating global problems such as food scarcity, the spread of infectious diseases, and environmental degradation. OSTP and NSTC have developed a specific strategy to improve U.S. and international prevention, surveillance and response to the outbreak of new and reemerging infectious diseases worldwide.

OSTP continues to provide technical input and analyses for a key Administration initiative -- the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We were an active participant in the planning and preparations for the recently successful Nuclear Safety and Security Summit held in Moscow. We are working closely with the National Security Council to implement new U.S.-Russian policy approaches to securing nuclear materials and OSTP leads the U.S. participation in the first-ever joint study with Russia on long-term disposition of excess weapons plutonium. OSTP is a key player in developing a national policy to protect America's critical infrastructure from physical and cyber attack.

OSTP has worked successfully to expand U.S. S&T relationships with important trading partners as well as economies in transition. Under the auspices of the Gore-Mbeki Commission, we have applied the tools of our S&T enterprise to help rebuild a unified, democratic South Africa. We are putting S&T in the service of our improving relationship with Russia and engaging Russian scientists in peaceful applications of S&T. Our S&T relationship continues to be the most consistent thread in our bilateral relationship with China. New partnerships with our counterparts in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) and the Americas, and work with the EU (European Union) and Japan, are addressing global issues and building a vibrant international S&T community.

Environment: OSTP worked with executive branch agencies through NSTC to produce a series of research strategies including a national strategy for environment and natural resources research, and a North American public/private research strategy for ozone and air quality research. OSTP continued to promote national and international discussions on environmental R&D issues, hosting a high-level International Forum on El Ni o and collaborating with the Council on Environmental Quality and the Institute of Medicine to hold a major conference on human health and climate change.

OSTP played a key role in a number of domestic and international environmental science assessments, including (1) an important study of global warming through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (2) an interagency review of mercury exposure levels, and (3) an interagency assessment of oxygenated fuels. We also continued our focus on improving the efficiency and coordination of ongoing agency and interagency environmental R&D activities, working with participating agencies to restructure the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and working with the private sector, academia, and state and municipal governments on the Administration's Environmental Technology Initiative. In addition, we began a National Environmental Monitoring initiative to improve monitoring efforts of various agencies at hundreds of sites around the country without additional expenditures. Finally, we started a Natural Hazard Loss Reduction initiative to apply S&T in mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

Technology: OSTP played a leadership role in the development of the Administration s Global Positioning System (GPS) policy. The new GPS policy describes the future management and use of the GPS, committing the United States to provide this navigation aid free of charge to all users and thereby enabling the development of a variety of new technology markets. OSTP is playing a similar leadership role in the ongoing review and revision of the Administration s space policy. OSTP has ongoing White House oversight responsibility for the Space Station and Space Shuttle programs, national R&D strategies for satellite technology, launch vehicle systems in international trade, and global communications technologies. OSTP co-chaired with the National Economic Council an interagency and international process designed to transform the current intergovernmental organizations INTELSAT and INMARSAT into competitive, fully private satellite communication firms.

OSTP/NSTC collaboration produced a federal R&D strategy to support the building and construction industry, and provided continuing leadership for the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle program. Other efforts included (1) developing new partnerships between the public and private sectors in a new consortium called the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, Inc., (2) specifying national goals for aeronautics R&D, (3) addressing important issues in aviation, intelligent transportation systems, and physical infrastructure, (4) supporting the federal High Performance Computing and Communications program, (5) launching several new programs to support the development of technologies for increasing the productivity of learning and teaching, (6) helping to create and continuing to work with Tech Corps, a national non-profit organization to assist schools in the task of integrating technology into the educational system, and (7) encouraging the development of the Challenge Grants for Technology in Education to develop a new generation of interactive learning tools.

Science: Working through the NSTC, and in response to a Congressional request, OSTP led an interagency review of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), providing the White House, Executive Branch Agencies, and Congress with an analysis of future options for the USAP. OSTP also worked with NSTC in the preparation of reports on: Assessing Fundamental Science; and Meeting the Challenge: A Research Agenda for America's Health, Safety, and Food. Assessing Fundamental Science, to be released later this year, will provide research agencies with advice on how fundamental science should be evaluated within the context of the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act. Meeting the Challenge identified major research areas that must be addressed to ensure the health and safety of all Americans. Other activities have included development and organization, with input from NSTC agencies, of the new National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and continuing leadership of an interagency committee addressing issues associated with Persian Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. In addition, OSTP has worked to strengthen the partnership between the Federal government and our Nation's colleges and universities.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I hope this brief overview has provided you with a convincing case for the essential role that OSTP and NSTC play together in enabling the American people to benefit from our Nation's science and technology efforts. Americans want a vibrant economy with more high-skill, high-wage jobs; a cleaner environment where energy efficiency and innovative industrial processes enabled by technological ingenuity increase profits, conserve natural resources, and reduce pollution; a stronger, more competitive private sector able to maintain leadership in critical world markets; an educational system where every student is challenged to reach his or her full potential; an inspired scientific and technological research community focusing on increasing our intellectual capital and and improving our quality of life; and a strong national security. Science and technology are absolutely critical to reaching those goals.

Investments in science and technology bring the Nation new advances and a brighter future. In the end, the most important measure of success will be the difference these investments make in the lives of the American people by improving our quality of life, strengthening the economic vitality of our nation, and contributing to our understanding of the world in which we live.

I ask for your support for OSTP's Fiscal Year 1997 budget request. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

1995-1996 Remarks

FY 1996 Science and Technology Budget - Press Briefing

John H. Gibbons - The First Rule of Tinkering

Sound Science, Sound Policy: The Ozone Story

Keynote Address - 6/18/96

Remarks of John H. Gibbons: AAAS Policy Colloquium

The New Frontier: Space Science and Technology in the Next Mellennium

Testimony of John H. Gibbons

Remarks - Dr. John H. Gibbons

Statement of the Director, OSTP, before the Committee on Science

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