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National security considerations demanded strictest secrecy and funding of the project represented an act of faith by Congress. Funds were hidden in various defense appropriation requests and only a handful of persons in the Executive branch and in the Congress were informed concerning the details. Congress approved the moneys on the word of its leaders.

The work and facilities of the Manhattan Engineer District were transferred to the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. Parallel military interests in testing and use of nuclear weapons were continued by the simultaneous activation of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, redesignated in 1959 the Defense Atomic Support Agency. This office is the central coordinating agency for the Department of Defense with the Atomic Energy Commission, the agency responsible for national policy concerning the control, use, and development of atomic energy.

3. Postwar Planning

As the war neared its end, the leaders of OSRD turned their attention to organization for scientific research during peacetime. Viewing OSRD as a wartime establishment, which could not and should not be maintained in time of peace, they sought alternatives. They identified as peacetime objectives the building up of the Nation's basic research capability which had suffered during the war, assuring a continuing trained scientific manpower supply, and continuing research for military readiness. Also they favored continuation of the extensive funding of research at universities which had worked so well during the


a. The Bush report.-In November 1944 President Roosevelt requested Dr. Vannevar Bush, director of the OSRD, to begin a study of how the lessons learned from the OSRD experience might be employed in times of peace. Dr. Bush had the assistance of four distinguished committees which separately studied and reported on the availability of information, medical research, Federal action to aid public and private research, and an adequate supply of scientific talent. Dr. Bush's report, "Science, the Endless Frontier," submitted in July 1945, was based on the findings and recommendations of the four committees. It quickly became a classic in the literature.

The theme of the Bush report was the importance to the Nation of the promotion of basic scientific research and the development of scientific talent, and the Federal Government's responsibility in both areas. Just as the Nation in the past had considered it basic policy to foster the opening of new frontiers on the seas and on the land-so now it should focus on the "frontier of science" which remains. Although the Government had long taken an active interest in scientific matters, and had supported research in State institutions and established more than 40 Federal scientific agencies, this effort did not meet the Nation's needs, Dr. Bush stated:

We have no national policy for science. The Government has only begun to utilize science in the Nation's welfare. There is no body within the Government charged with formulating or executing a national science policy. There are no standing committees of the Congress devoted to this important subject. Science has been in the wings. It should be brought to the center of the stage-for in it lies much of our hope for the future. (p. 7).

To implement these new responsibilities, he recommended the establishment of a "permanent governmental structure receiving its funds from Congress . . . adapted to supplementing the support of basic research in the colleges, universities, and research institutes, both in medicine and the natural sciences, adapted to supporting research on new weapons for both services, or adapted to administering a program of science scholarships and fellowships." 15a Elsewhere in the report the details of this central scientific agency or National Research Foundation were set forth. The Bush report contained many other important recommendations but from the overall science policy viewpoint, this was the most important.

Legislation providing for a new agency along these guidelines was introduced in both the House and the Senate on July 19, 1945, beginning a 5-year period of debate, delay, and compromise, which finally resulted in the establishment of the National Science Foundation in 1950.

b. The Kilgore report. The executive branch was not the only part of the Government concerned with the peacetime organization for scientific affairs. Since 1942 a Subcommittee on War Mobilization of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs under the chairmanship of Senator Harley Kilgore had investigated scientific and technical mobilization problems. In February 1943 Senator Kilgore reintroduced legislation to bring together in an Office of War Mobilization, the Federal offices dealing with production and supply, manpower, economic stabilization, and scientific and technical mobilization.16 Shortly thereafter he introduced another bill to establish an Office of Scientific and Technical Mobilization which would be concerned with application of the Nation's scientific and technical resources, both for the prosecution of the war and for peacetime.17 Hearings on scientific and technical mobilization were held by the subcommittee during 1943 and Vice President Henry A. Wallace endorsed the concepts of S. 702 but no further action was reported.

Subsequently the subcommittee made a survey of wartime research and development activities of the Federal departments and agencies. Part II of the subcommittee's report, containing findings and recommendations, was published in July 1945, within a few days of the Bush report.18

Although the Kilgore report differed from the Bush report in that it raised more questions than it recommended solutions, its major conclusions were the same: First, that science must be provided for systematically within the Government and the American people must support basic research instead of relying on basic research from the laboratories of other nations; and second, there was a definite need for a central scientific agency. Such an agency would:

1. Provide for an increase, above the prewar level, in the Government's support of research and development activities in fields that are predominantly in the public interests, notably national defense, health and medical care, and the basic sciences.

15a Ibid., p. 4.

16 S. 607, 78th Cong., introduced Feb. 1. 1943 (Military Affairs).

17 S. 702, 78th Cong., introduced Feb. 11, 1943 (Military Affairs).

18 U.S. Senate Committee on Military Affairs, Subcommittee on War Mobilization, The Government's Wartime Research and Development, 1940-44. (Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., Part I-January 1945, 326 pp. ; Part II—July 1945, 14 pp.)

2. Provide for an efficient formulation and coordination of all such federally supported research and development work, utilizing so far as possible the existing resources of public and private research organizations, particularly nonprofit educational institutions and research foundations.

3. Stimulate a general expansion in research and development by private organizations and institutions.

4. Promote a wide flow of scientific and technical information to industry and agriculture and business, particularly small enterprises.

5. Encourage the rapid introduction and full use of scientific discoveries and the most advanced techniques and inventions.19

To implement these recommendations, Senator Kilgore introduced legislation on July 23, 1945, to provide for the establishment of a National Science Foundation.20

4. The Establishment of the National Science Foundation

The Federal support of scientific research and the establishment of a Federal research agency received administration support from President Harry S. Truman. In a special message to the Congress of September 6, 1945, the President presented a 21-point program for the postwar reconversion period in which he discussed research at length. His remarks are quoted here in full because they constituted an important policy statement with respect to Government-science relationships in the postwar period.


Progress in scientific research and development is an indispensable condition to the future welfare and security of the Nation. The events of the past few years are both proof and prophecy of what science can do.

Science in this war has worked through thousands of men and women who labored selflessly and, for the most part, anonymously in the laboratories, pilot plants, and proving grounds of the Nation.

Through them, science, always pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge, forged the new weapons that shortened the war.

Progress in science cannot depend alone upon brilliant inspiration or sudden flights of genius. We have recently had a dramatic demonstration of this truth. In peace and in war, progress comes slowly in small new bits, from the unremitting day-by-day labors of thousands of men and women.

No nation can maintain a position of leadership in the world today unless it develops to the full its scientific and technological resources. No government adequately meets its responsibilities unless it generously and intelligently supports and encourages the work of science in university, industry, and in its own laboratories.

During the war we have learned much about the methods of organizing science, and about the ways of encouraging and supporting its activities.

The development of atomic energy is a clear-cut indication of what can be accomplished by our universities, industry, and Government working together. Vast scientific fields remain to be conquered in the same way.

In order to derive the full profit in the future from what we have learned, I urge upon the Congress the early adoption of legislation for the establishment of a single Federal research agency which would discharge the following functions:

1. Promote and support fundamental research and development projects in all matters pertaining to the defense and security of the Nation.

2. Promote and support research in the basic sciences and in the social sciences.

3. Promote and support research in medicine, public health, and allied fields. 4. Provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants for young men and women of proved scientific ability.

19 Pt. II. ibid., p. 14.

20 S. 1297; introduced July 23, 1945, by Senators Harley Kilgore, Edwin C. Johnson, and Claude Pepper (Military Affairs).

5. Coordinate and control diverse scientific activities now conducted by the several departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

6. Make fully, freely, and publicly available to commerce, industry, agriculture, and academic institutions, the fruits of research financed by Federal funds.

Scientific knowledge and scientific research are a complex and interrelated structure. Technological advances in one field may have great significance for another apparently unrelated. Accordingly, I urge upon the Congress the desirability of centralizing these functions in a single agency.

Although science can be coordinated and encouraged, it cannot be dictated to or regimented. Science cannot progress unless founded on the free intelligence of the scientist. I stress the fact that the Federal research agency here proposed should in no way impair that freedom.

Even if the Congress promptly adopts the legislation I have recommended, some months must elapse before the newly established agency could commence its operations. To fill what I hope will be only a temporary gap, I have asked the Office of Scientific Research and Development and the Research Board for National Security to continue their work.

Our economic and industrial strength, the physical well-being of our people, the achievement of full employment and full production, the future of our security, and the preservation of our principles will be determined by the extent to which we give full and sincere support to the works of science.

It is with these works that we can build the highroads to the future."

In October 1945, joint hearings were held by subcommittees of the Senate Military Affairs and Senate Commerce Committees on the various proposals for a National Science Foundation, during which testimony was taken from almost 100 witnesses who appeared or submitted written statements. Following the hearings, Senator Kilgore introduced revised versions of his bill.22 S. 1850 was passed by the Senate on July 3, 1946. It was the first bill concerning a National Science Foundation on which action was taken in Congress. In the House, the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee held 2 days of hearings in 1946 on pending bills. No further action was taken.

An Academy study of this period states that the failure of Congress to act on a National Science Foundation bill during the last session of the 79th Congress is partially explained by the bitter controversy over atomic-energy legislation which preempted the attention of Congress before legislation establishing the Atomic Energy Commission was finally approved on August 1, 1946.23

The 80th Congress saw a renewal of interest in a National Science Foundation. On July 27, 1947, an amended version of S. 526 was approved and sent to the President for signature. But the initial effort was destined to failure. The legislation in some respects was too radical and President Truman allowed the bill to die by a pocket veto, stating his reasons in a Memorandum of Disapproval of August 6, 1947.

President Truman's chief disagreement was over the provision in the legislation vesting the powers of the Foundation in a group of part-time individuals who would be essentially private citizens. The law provided that the Director would be responsible to an executive committee selected by the Foundation members. Foundation members were also empowered to appoint commissions in various fields of

21 U.S. President. "Public Papers of the Presidents, Harry S. Truman, 1945," pp. 292-294. 22 S. 1720, Dec. 21, 1945; S. 1850, Feb. 21, 1946.

23 National Academy of Sciences, "Federal Support of Basic Research in Institutions of Higher Education" (Washington, 1964, p. 34).

research to consist of public citizens with powers of recommendation and review. These powers, the President said, would conflict with his constitutional responsibility.

The Constitution places upon the President the responsibility for seeing that the laws are faithfully executed. In the administration of this law, however, he would be deprived of effective means for discharging his constitutional responsibility.

Full Governmental authority and responsibility would be placed in 24 parttime officers whom the President could not effectively hold responsible for proper administration. Neither could the Director be held responsible by the President, for he would be the appointee of the Foundation and would be insulated from the President by two layers of part-time boards. In the case of the divisions and special commissions, the lack of accountability would be even more aggravated.24

It was almost 3 more years before a compromise was finally reached on a charter for a National Science Foundation with the passage and approval of S. 247 (Public Law 81-507) on May 10, 1950.

On this occasion, President Truman reaffirmed the importance to the Nation of scientific progress:

The fact that the world has not found postwar security in no way lessens the need for the National Science Foundation. On the contrary, it underscores this need.

We have come to know that our ability to survive and grow as a Nation depends to a very large degree upon our scientific progress. Moreover, it is not enough simply to keep abreast of the rest of the world in scientific matters. We must maintain our leadership. The National Science Foundation will stimulate basic research and education in nearly every branch of science, and thereby add to the supply of knowledge which is indispensable to our continued growth, prosperity and security."


The delay in passage of legislation establishing the National Science Foundation greatly affected the scope and authority of the agency which was finally approved. The agency originally conceived by Dr. Bush differed from that proposed by Senator Kilgore principally in the degree of freedom from political interference which the new agency should be allowed. But both proposals had envisaged originally a broadly based agency with responsibilities for supporting basic scientific research in colleges and universities in both medicine and the natural sciences as well as defense-related research.

When the initial legislative attempt appeared doomed to failure, alternative sources of support for these areas were developed within existing Federal agencies. These agencies which filled the gap by funding basic research were the Office of Naval Research in the Navy Department and the National Institutes of Health of the Public Health Service, then in the Federal Security Agency. The Departments of the Army and Air Force soon followed, and also the Atomic Energy Commission.

Neither the original Bush proposal nor the Kilgore proposal contained dollar limitations on amounts which might be appropriated annually for the new agency. But certainly, they had in mind a much more important agency than emerged from the 1950 legislation. Public Law 507 set a ceiling of $500,000 for the first full year's budget and a maximum ceiling of $15 million in any subsequent year. In fact, only one-quarter million dollars was appropriated by Congress for fiscal 1951, with $3.5 million the next year. The $15 million limitation on

24 U.S. President, Public Papers of the Presidents, Harry S. Truman, 1947, ppp.369-370. 25 U.S. President. Public Papers of the Presidents, Harry S. Truman, 1950, pp. 338-339.

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