The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Science and Technology Leadership in American Government: Ensuring the Best Presidential Appointments
change and international competition, leadership cannot be taken for granted. It must be actively maintained.
The success of American science and technology has been based, in no small measure, on a multitude of partnerships between the federal government and the rest of the country: especially research institutions, universities, and businesses. Such partnerships require cooperation and constant communication. They also require, with our current personnel arrangements, the movement of scientific and technical leaders between the federal government and research institutions, universities, and businesses.
Leadership of the government's role in science and technology is exercised by executives in fewer than 100 positions. This report focuses on 78 or so presidentially appointed positions subject to Senate confirmation (called PAS positions).1 They include high-level posts in the Executive Office of the President and in the agencies and departments that support scientific and industrial research and development; manage large-scale defense, space, energy, health research, and environmental programs; and regulate activities with large technology components. Most of the top S&T positions are held by scientists or engineers, and the rest could be. It is these high-level officials who stand at the point where government intersects with science and technology.
The nation needs exceptionally able scientists and engineers in these executive positions—to weigh the advice of technical specialists and to make key decisions on what should be done, lead the resulting programs, and evaluate the results. The government's capacity to perform these science and technology functions would be seriously affected by increasing difficulties in recruiting highly qualified personnel with the scientific and engineering training and experience needed in the top science and technology positions in the executive branch.
Most of the research and development work in the United States takes place in the private sector, including more than three-quarters of the research and development (R&D) paid for with federal dollars. The
The rest are career and noncareer Senior Executive Service or equivalent positions, such as the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control, and Associate Administrators of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Improving the Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization of Federal Scientists and Engineers, a companion report by a National Research Council committee, addresses the problems of recruiting and retaining career scientists and engineers, some of whom hold these top science and technology positions (NRC, 1992).