The Honorable John H. Gibbons, Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs, HUD, and
Independent Agencies Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
March 5, 1997
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 1998.
As we approach the turn of the century, it seems appropriate to
take stock of the Nation's science and technology (S&T) enterprise, and
to look to the future -- to the opportunities that lie ahead as well as
the challenges that we face. The Information Age is bringing changes to
our society that are only beginning to unfold. Already, new
communications technologies are transforming the way we work, where we
work, and what we need to know to be successful in tomorrow's
competitive environment. Five years ago "Internet" was still a word
known mostly to those in S&T. Today, it is the backbone of a new
industry and a window to a tremendous world of information for all
segments of our society, from business executives to school children.
The rapid economic growth of other nations means a future with
greatly expanded markets for U.S. goods and services. Our ability to
move our ideas, our goods, and ourselves swiftly to any place on the
planet, with the help of new technologies, enhances our ability to share
in the growth of global wealth. The increasing availability of these
same capabilities throughout the world also means greater competition;
it means increasing pressures on our shared environment, health, and
natural resources; and it means more diverse dangers to our security
from threats such as terrorism and the spread of nuclear and other
materials of mass destruction.
The President's key goals for our country include competing
aggressively in the global market place, preserving our environment and
managing our Nation's resources in a sustainable manner, safeguarding
our national security from emerging threats, and maintaining the
technological innovation that has contributed to our economic prosperity
and quality of life. Achieving these goals requires a sustained
commitment to our S&T investments. Therefore, this year, as in the
previous four, the President has called for increasing our national
commitment to support S&T.
Just as we struggle with the increasingly difficult choices that a
balanced budget requires, we also must focus on the importance of
sustaining our investment in the future. Funding for S&T, like funding
for education, is a high-leverage investment in our continued peace and
prosperity. Support for such investments has traditionally been a
matter of bipartisan agreement. It is imperative that we build common
ground in support of a shared vision -- a commitment to keep America the
world's leader in S&T.
Recent Advances in Science and Technology
Over the past year there have been numerous scientific and
technological advances, reminding us of how much there is yet to know,
and of the potential of S&T to further enrich and improve our lives. I
will mention just a few such recent advances.
In December 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy, in cooperation
with Intel Corporation, announced the completion of the worlds'
first 1-trillion-calculations-per-second computer -- breaking
the "teraflop" goal. This computer was developed as part of
the Department's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative,
which is pioneering technology to ensure the safety and
reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. This accomplishment
is the culmination of years of effort to reinvent computing
organized within the Federal government as a multiagency
consortium called the High Performance Computing and
Communications (HPCC) Initiative. Instead of focusing on a
single computer processor, which would have been extremely
difficult and expensive, the U.S. program resulted in an
entirely new computer technology called parallel computing.
Parallel computing allows the biggest computers in the world to
be assembled from mass-produced microprocessors, which were
originally developed for use in desktop and home PCs. This new
computing power is valuable in a variety of applications,
including the simulation of disease progression, the projection
of severe weather systems, the mapping of the humane genome,
the improvement of highway safety, and the development of
environmental remediation methods to reclaim polluted lands.
Scientists are unraveling the complex interactions that exist
between HIV and the human immune system. We now have a much
better understanding of how HIV gains entry into cells.
NIH-supported scientists have discovered two new cell-surface
proteins that act as "cofactors" along with the CD4 receptor
that assist HIV in binding and infecting immune cells. This
information will be extremely useful in developing new
approaches to control this devastating disease. In addition,
the use of powerful triple drug therapies are having a
remarkable impact on lowering the number of deaths caused by
HIV -- down 13 percent from last year.
Two NIH-funded groups, using different but related genetic
techniques, reported advances in understanding how mice create
a mental map of a new environment. Employing sophisticated
monitoring equipment, researchers were able to detect activity
in individual brain cells as the mice investigated their
surroundings. This work provides a window into how human
Wolfgang Ketterle's group at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology has succeeded in using a Bose-Einstein condensate
(BEC) to make the world's first "atom laser," which fires a
narrow beam of coherent "matter waves" with about a million
atoms per pulse. Coherent beams of atoms could eventually
allow much finer measurements and manipulations, such as moving
atoms around one by one or "writing" atoms into semiconductors.
In a stunning scientific advance that contributes to our
fundamental understanding of the origins of life, in August of
1996, a team of researchers announced that they had decoded the
first complete genetic blueprint of a microorganism from the
third major branch of life on earth, a microbe named
Methanococcus janaschii. The finding will allow scientists to
understand more about the operation and function of the cell,
while bringing them closer to understanding the nature of
ancestral cells from which life stemmed early in the planet's
history. In the years ahead, the gene sequence holds dramatic
prospects for commercial applications in biotechnology, for the
development of renewable energy sources, and for cleaning the
The National Research Investment Portfolio
Overall, the Federal government invests approximately 2.5 percent
of the Federal budget annually (roughly $75 billion) to generate new
knowledge, new technologies, and new scientists and engineers. The
return on investments in S&T as a whole for our Nation have been
impressive: half of our economic productivity growth in the last fifty
years is attributable to technological innovation and to the science
that supported this innovation.
The Administration's FY1998 budget supports the cutting-edge
research of the Federal government's mission agencies by augmenting
stable funding levels with targeted increases that include:
- A 2.6% increase in the National Institutes of Health budget, to fund high-priority research areas such as HIV/AIDS-related
illnesses, breast cancer, minority health initiatives, disease
prevention, and spinal cord research.
- A 3% increase in the funding of science, engineering, and
education R&D at the National Science Foundation.
- A five-year, 1 billion dollar increase in NASA's space science
budget, funding research into the origins of the galaxy and the
possibility of life beyond Earth.
- An 8% increase in the basic research budget of the Defense
- A $1.4 billion appropriation for the Department of Energy's
Stockpile Stewardship Program, which supports the research that
will allow us to assure the reliability and safety of our
nuclear stockpile without resorting to nuclear testing.
- A 4.6% increase in basic science research programs at the
Department of Energy.
- A $289 million increase in funding for university-based
research to strengthen the University-Government partnership
and a $497 million increase in peer reviewed R&D programs.
Shaping the Twenty-first Century
A bipartisan consensus has emerged around the view that we must
create, not simply a Federal research program, but a truly national S&T
enterprise -- one in which federal investments stimulate the S&T efforts
of state and local governments, of private industry, and of
universities. In a tight budget environment, these partnerships are
essential, and will be a cornerstone of our S&T enterprise in the coming
The long-standing Federal partnership with universities has made
our Nation the world's leading generator of new knowledge and
fundamental insights that lead to new industries, breakthrough medical
therapies, and a more sophisticated defense. We are also placing an
increased emphasis on partnerships with industry, in which the Federal
government shares the costs and the risks of advances that promise a
large benefit to society. An example is the Partnership for a New
Generation of Vehicles initiative, in which seven federal agencies and
twenty national laboratories have partnered with the Big Three
automobile manufacturers in R&D projects aimed at improving auto safety,
emissions, and fuel efficiency.
Other Federal partnerships include grass roots projects that bring
people and technology together. One such venture, the Technology
Innovation Challenge Grant Program, has already lead to the creation of
dozens of partnerships linking school systems with businesses,
universities, parks, and museums to develop creative uses for
information technologies. Partnerships such as these extend the benefits
of our Nation's investment in S&T.
The OSTP Mission
In support of our Nation's S&T priorities, OSTP has two primary
responsibilities: advising the President on S&T; and providing
leadership and coordination for our government's role in the national
In the 1950's, in response to Soviet advances, highlighted by the
launch of Sputnik, President Eisenhower saw the need for expert S&T
counsel, and he invited James Killian, then President of MIT, to
Washington to serve as the head of the first President's Science
Advisory Committee, an OSTP predecessor. Since then our Nation's
Presidents have drawn on the expertise of our office for S&T policy
advice, and I see this as a contribution that will continue to grow in
value as the challenges we face become increasingly complex.
Within our agency, a small staff of professionals analyzes
developments at the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and aids the
President in shaping policy. OSTP also provides scientific and technical
information and recommendations to the Vice President, the White House
Offices, the Executive Branch Agencies, and to Congress.
A second responsibility of OSTP is to provide leadership and
coordination across the Administration. OSTP plays this role for a
range of Administration priorities, including national security and
global stability, environment, science, and technology. 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 Science and Technology Council
To meet the Administration's priority S&T goals we must combine
the efforts and the expertise of multiple agencies. OSTP personnel
support the work of the NSTC, a Cabinet-level Council that sponsors
interagency initiatives to advance key S&T objectives.
Our distributed system of research funding also places a premium
on coordination between complementary agency programs. The NSTC, now in
its fourth year, is improving such coordination
NSTC membership includes Cabinet Secretaries, heads of science and
technology agencies, and key White House officials with significant S&T
responsibilities. In the process of generating specific budgetary and
policy recommendations, the NSTC routinely reaches beyond the federal
government to seek input from a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the
public and private sectors.
An important objective of the NSTC is to guide individual agency
budget priorities for R&D and to orient the S&T spending of each Federal
mission agency toward achieving national goals. To meet this objective,
the NSTC has established nine goal-oriented committees, each of which is
chaired jointly by a senior agency official and an OSTP Associate
Director. These standing committees, along with ad hoc working groups
within NSTC, provide an effective forum to resolve cross-cutting issues
such as interagency review of the future role of the U.S. national
laboratories, or the Federal response to the threat of emerging
Current interagency S&T initiatives include:
- The National Bioethics Advisory Commission, a multiagency-supported commission composed of experts and community
representatives, established by the President to ensure the
ethical conduct of human biological and behavioral research.
- A three-year, $300 million Next Generation Internet Initiative
to create the foundation for the networks of the 21st century ,
by connecting more than 100 of our universities and national
labs at speeds that are 100 - 1,000 times faster than today's
Internet -- with the capacity for secure, reliable transmission
of voice, video, and virtual reality data.
- A multiagency task force to conduct a comprehensive review of
the University-Government partnership. This review will
examine which components of the university system may be under
stress, and will determine what the U.S. Government role should
be in addressing these issues.
- An Intelligent Transportation Initiative to support traffic
control centers that can manage the operation of major roads by
providing real-time information that will drastically cut
accident rates, produce an estimated 15 percent savings in
travel time, and result in significant productivity gains for
business and industry.
- An Emerging Infectious Diseases Initiative to develop more
effective systems of surveillance, prevention, treatment, and
response to these growing domestic and international health
- An interagency antiterrorism body, the Technical Support
Working Group, to coordinate the development of new
technologies to counter the modern terrorist threat.
- An Environmental Modeling and Research Initiative that will
allow, for the first time, a comprehensive evaluation of our
Nation's environmental resources and its ecological systems,
thus producing a sound scientific base to support natural
resource assessment and decision-making.
- A variety of educational technology projects and classroom
telecommunications links, funded by major Federal agencies,
that will reflect the President's unwavering support for
improving the educational and training opportunities of the
workforce of tomorrow.
- A multiagency Children's Initiative assessed the current scope
of research on children and adolescents, identified significant
gaps in the research agenda, and developed recommendations for
needed efforts and linkage in the research and policy
The President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology
As Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, I co-chair the
President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology
(PCAST) with John Young, former President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.
PCAST is a distinguished assembly of scientists, academics, and
industrial leaders. It serves as the highest-level private sector S&T
advisory group for both the President and the NSTC. This past year,
issues examined by PCAST included the health of our research
universities, the government's investment role in technology, prevention
of deadly conflict, University-Government partnerships, sustainable
development and the Federal research and development role in learning
OSTP Budget Request
I ask today for your continued support of OSTP's role in
coordinating S&T policy for the Executive Branch and for our Nation at
large. OSTP's budget request of $4,932,000 for FY1998 will maintain
the ability of our agency to serve both the public and this President to
the fullest extent. This is the same figure as our request for FY1997.
We intend to compensate for inflation losses by increased productivity,
but this is a substantial challenge.
Since personnel costs constitute the largest portion of OSTP's
budget, wherever possible the FY1998 request reflects a reduction of
administrative expense in keeping with the Administration's goal of
creating leaner, more efficient government. The request for FY1998
reflects our commitment to operate cost-effectively while retaining the
most vital element of our agency -- our high-caliber personnel.
Before concluding, it is appropriate that I take some time to
provide a sample of OSTP's accomplishments over the past year. (We have
submitted for the record a document fully summarizing our FY1996
accomplishments.) OSTP, working with the NSTC, has been instrumental in
shaping our Nation's S&T policy; not only as it relates to Federal S&T
activities, but also to partnerships between the Federal government and
states, universities, and industry.
Environment: OSTP continued its focus on improving the efficiency and
coordination of on-going agency and interagency environmental R&D
activities. OSTP fostered an interagency effort, NSTC's Committee on
Environment and Natural Resources (CENR), to integrate the Nation's
environmental monitoring and related research. CENR will provide an
integrated scientific information base to support natural resource
assessment and decision-making. Many of today's monitoring programs are
designed with the goal of providing information on single-agency
missions and tend to focus on a single source or issue. By integrating
these monitoring and research activities, the Nation can begin to assess
the status of resources and their multiple uses in the context of the
OSTP staff helped develop a strategy for national earthquake loss
reduction to focus scarce research and development dollars on the most
effective means for saving lives and property and limiting the social
disruptions from earthquakes. This Administration is strongly committed
to reducing losses from natural disasters by supporting programs in
observing, documenting, understanding, assessing, and predicting the
potential consequences of natural hazards.
Following a series of workshops held across the country with more
than 1,000 key stakeholders, OSTP hosted a White House Conference to
discuss ways to implement the National Environmental Technology
Strategy. The required improved efficiency in our technological
infrastructure is being achieved through collaboration among industry,
academia, and communities to develop long-term goals, measure
performance along multiple dimensions and scales, and implement
complementary policies to encourage high levels of innovation.
Anticipating future needs is critical to achieving successful
improvements in efficiency.
OSTP played a key role in a number of domestic and international
science assessments. In climate change research, OSTP continued its
role in coordinating scientific and technical assessments to support the
U.S. delegation to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. A
planning framework for Federal research related to the human health and
ecological effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals was developed and
an inventory of related on-going Federal research programs was
Technology: OSTP led the effort to reshape agency research programs in
information technology through the NSTC Committee on Computing,
Information, and Communications. This group designed and is leading the
Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, launched in October 1996. The
NGI initiative is a three year, $300 million investment that will create
the foundation for the networks of the 21st century.
OSTP continued its active role in the Administration's education
technology programs. OSTP has provided broad support for the President's
Technology Initiative launched in February 1996, and has included
public/private partnership activities such as NetDays, Tech Corps, Cyber
Ed, and the Technology Literacy Challenge (TLC). The TLC program
challenges communities to form local partnerships of school systems,
colleges, universities, and private businesses to develop creative new
ways to use technology for learning. In FY1996, 24 finalists were
awarded grants to communities in 16 states. An interagency team under
NSTC, developed a set of research priorities which shaped agency R&D
funding for education technology.
OSTP provided technical support for the White House Commission on
Aviation Safety and Security, through both its Technology and National
Security and International Affairs divisions, and is coordinating the
new interagency research program on advanced air traffic management
developed in response to the Commission's report.
Other efforts included: (1) providing continued leadership for the
Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle program; (2) developing an
integrated plan for R&D in transportation and launching a number of
implementation efforts; (3) initiating a project to streamline and
coordinate the regulatory permitting of construction projects by
developing model regulations and standards; and (4) initiating
cooperative agreements with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to
evaluate the near- and long-term potential for biomass to serve as a
major fuel source for electricity generation, and for converting biomass
fuels for transportation. This led to three pilot biomass energy
projects in 1996.
OSTP played a leadership role in the broad interagency review and
revision of the National Space Policy released last September. OSTP has
ongoing White House oversight responsibility for the International Space
Station and Space Shuttle programs, national R&D strategies for
satellite technology, launch vehicle systems in international trade, and
global communications technologies. OSTP supported the President in
commissioning an independent review of the Space Shuttle program that
reaffirmed the operational safety of the Space Shuttle. OSTP coordinated
the White House response to the discovery that life may have existed on
ancient Mars and organized the Vice President's Space Science Symposium
in December. OSTP worked with OMB to define a stable and balanced budget
for NASA that continues to support our ongoing mission priorities while
enhancing our commitment to science. OSTP continues to co-chair 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
Science: OSTP led the effort to ensure that basic research budgets were
given high priority in the FY1998 budget request and in the outyears.
OSTP also led an effort to follow up on the results of the Presidential
Decision Directive (PDD) on reforming DOD, DOE, and NASA National
Laboratories. This effort indicated that substantial progress has been
made in meeting the goals of the PDD, but much remains to be done. OSTP
initiated the first Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and
Engineers. This award was given to 60 young scientist that have made
outstanding scientific contributions and that have the leadership
potential to keep our Nation on the cutting edge of scientific and
engineering advancement. OSTP also initiated the first Presidential
Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring, given
to 10 individuals and six institutions who have demonstrated their high
degree of commitment to promoting diversity in the S&T community.
OSTP staff, working with the NSTC, developed the Children's
Initiative, which addresses the need to better tie Federal actions that
impact children to sound science. As the Initiative develops, it will
identify research gaps in a variety of areas relating to the health and
well-being of children and promote tighter linkages to policy making.
Other accomplishments related to children include the OSTP, DPC, NSF,
and DoEd collaboration on how to improve the performance of our Nation's
eighth graders in math.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans
Illnesses, for which OSTP had White House responsibility, released to
the President its final report that contained numerous recommendations
on how we can improve the treatment of Gulf War veterans and how we can
prevent similar problems in future conflicts. An interagency response
to the Committee's report is due to the President in the near future.
OSTP also launched the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and was
instrumental in arranging for appropriate levels of funding. The
Commission was recently charged by the President to address the legal
and ethical issues associated with cloning human embryos.
National Security and International Affairs: OSTP coordinates, in
conjunction with the National Security Council, both the national and
international aspects of U.S. efforts to dispose of worldwide stocks of
excess weapons-grade plutonium. OSTP played a key role in the
successful October 1996 conference of experts on plutonium disposition
that was called for by the April 1996 Nuclear Safety and Security
Summit. OSTP co-chairs a joint U.S.-Russian Plutonium Disposition
Steering Committee which oversees the government to government
collaboration in this area and delivered the first-ever joint study of
plutonium disposition options. OSTP provided technical analyses and
advice for the NSC process that led to the endorsement of a
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which requires confidence in the
U.S. nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing, and OSTP has led the
interagency effort to ensure that existing U.S.-operated global seismic
networks will be fully integrated into CTBT verification. More
generally, OSTP has provided important science and technology policy
perspectives in a variety of key national security areas including
aviation security, critical infrastructure protection, the banning of
antipersonnel landmines, counterterrorism, information warfare, and
ballistic missile defenses.
To more effectively address the growing global threat stemming
from the spread of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, at the
President's direction OSTP took the lead in forming an interagency task
force to address this issue. The Task Force has initiated activities to
strengthen disease surveillance, prevention, and response, including the
development of a global disease surveillance network.
OSTP has worked successfully to expand U.S. S&T relationships with
important trading partners and economies in transition to strengthen
benefits to our national security, economic, and scientific goals.
Through the high-level binational commission with Russia, OSTP played a
lead role in the effort to develop guidelines for intellectual property
rights protection for government agreements and contracts with Russia,
and to reach agreement on a plan to promote the use of the Internet in
Russia. OSTP has also supported international S&T efforts to address
policy priorities through other high level binational commissions with
South Africa and Egypt, and through the evolving Sustainable Development
Forum with China. S&T partnerships have been strengthened with Japan,
such as in the creation of an Earthquake Disaster Mitigation
Partnership, and OSTP is participating in negotiations over an S&T
agreement with the European Union.
OSTP has also taken the U.S. Government lead in several
multilateral fora as a way to promote U.S. interests and maximize the
value of U.S. S&T investments. OSTP worked closely with the technical
agencies and OMB to coordinate the U.S. Government's negotiating
position on such international projects as the Large Hadron Collider,
the Human Frontier Science Program, and the International Thermonuclear
Experimental Reactor. OSTP promoted the creation of a follow-on
mechanism to the OECD Megascience Forum. In Asia, OSTP led U.S.
participation in the APEC Science and Technology Ministerial, and in
Latin America, OSTP had a lead in organizing the first-ever meeting of
S&T Ministers. Both fora have launched S&T initiatives that are useful
in promoting U.S. S&T interests in these regions.
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