Press Release

AIP FYI #127: Text of OSTP Director Nominee Marburger’s Senate Statement

By SpaceRef Editor
October 12, 2001
Filed under ,

John Marburger appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation on October 9, as President Bush’s
nominee for Director of the Office of Science and Technology
Policy. FYI #126 provided coverage of the nomination hearing.
The full text of Marburger’s written statement, which runs
several pages, is provided below. In it, he addresses making
choices among fields of science, the role of S&T in combating
terrorism, coordination of federal research efforts, the
government’s role in R&D and its impact on society, balance in
the research portfolio and interdependence among fields, and four
priority areas he considers “grand challenges.”

Written Statement of Dr. John H. Marburger III:

“It is a great honor and privilege to come before you as
President Bush’s nominee for Director of the Office of Science
and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the

“I approach this opportunity and profound responsibility with a
mixture of humility and immense pride – humility in the wake of
the distinguished American scientists who have gone before me,
pride in this nation’s unmatched scientific establishment.
Science and technology have long provided us with increased
security, better health, and greater economic opportunity and
will continue to do so for many generations to come.

“I believe my professional career over the last three decades –
as a Professor of physics and electrical engineering, as a
university Dean and President, and as the Director of the
Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory – has
provided me with the knowledge and experience to meet the needs
and expectations of this office.

“Should I be confirmed, I look forward to a close and productive
relationship with the Congress and particularly with this
Committee, which has long provided bipartisan and enduring
support of our world-leading science and engineering enterprise.
The counsel and support of Members of Congress is an essential
element of continued U.S. leadership across the frontiers of
scientific knowledge.

“We must make important choices together because we have neither
unlimited resources, nor a monopoly of the world’s scientific
talent. While I believe we should seek to excel in all
scientific disciplines, we must still choose among the multitudes
of possible research programs. We must decide which ones to
launch, encourage, and enhance and which ones to modify,
reevaluate, or redirect in keeping with our national needs and

“Today the most pressing of these needs is an adequate and
coordinated response to the vicious and destructive terrorist
attacks on September 11, a response in which science and
technology are already playing an important role. The scientific
and technical communities have signaled their commitment to this
urgent national need, and functions of coordination and
evaluation of proposed programs are increasingly important to
realize their full potential.

“The struggle against terrorism has many fronts, and science and
technology pervade them all. From instruments of surveillance
that are consistent with our nation’s love of individual freedom,
to basic advances in science that feed technologies important for
long term economic strength, and the international collaborations
that awaken in other cultures the spirit of objectivity and the
quest for truth, the security of our nation depends upon
thoughtful management of our scientific and technical resources.

“It is our joint responsibility to ensure that our science and
technology portfolio is responsive to Presidential and
Congressional intent, that our cross-cutting programs are
well-coordinated, and that our research and development (R&D)
funds are efficiently used.

“Since its inception, the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(OSTP) has played an important national role not only in
enhancing the connections between fundamental research and our
overarching national goals, but also in sustaining and nurturing
America’s unmatched scientific enterprise.

“If confirmed as the President’s science advisor, I will seek the
counsel and wisdom of the best minds in the science and
engineering community in both the public and private sectors and
provide the most knowledgeable advice directly to the President
for his deliberations and decisions. I also would hope to
organize the office in a way that builds upon the impressive
progress made by my distinguished predecessors.

“As part of the Executive Office of the President, OSTP has a
unique position and perspective that enables us to assess the
vast sweep of scientific endeavors of our various Federal
agencies and departments. The complexity of this activity, the
diversity of its impacts, and the intensity of its many advocates
mask an underlying machinery of the scientific enterprise whose
parts must work in balance to effect the smooth functioning of
the whole. Our joint responsibility is to identify the crucial
parts, evaluate their effectiveness, and ensure their continuing
strength through all the mechanisms available to national

“The roots of this governmental role in science go deep. More
than any other nation, we have used science and technology wisely
to create peace, advance democracy, and provide for the well
being of our citizens. I know these are also President Bush’s
goals as he seeks to support and encourage diverse scientific
research and development in our nation’s universities, national
laboratories, and industries.

“Economists tell us that fully half of our economic growth in the
last half-century has come from technological innovation and the
science that supported it. It is no accident that our country’s
most productive and competitive industries are those that
benefitted from sustained Federal investments in R&D – computers
and communications, semiconductors, biotechnology, aerospace,
environmental technologies, energy efficiency.

“The Federal role is crucial. Economists estimate that rates of
return on private sector R&D spending average about 30 percent.
But societal rates of return on public R&D investments – the
economic benefits that accrue to our entire society – are twice
as large. As much as half the return on a particular firm’s R&D
investment goes to other companies and competitors – not to the
investing company. This “spillover” effect means that private
industry cannot and will not commit the level of resources to R&D
that is best for society.

“From satellites to software to superconductivity, the Federal
government has supported – and must continue to support –
exploratory research, experimentation, and innovation that would
be impossible for individual companies or even whole industries
to afford. These partnerships in pursuit of innovation enable
the private sector to generate new knowledge and develop novel
technologies that ultimately lead to commercial success,
increased jobs, and healthier and more productive lives for all

“Balance in this broad research portfolio recognizes that
advances in one field, such as medicine, are often dependent on
gains in other disciplines. Diversified investments across the
full spectrum maximize our returns, both financial and

“Medical diagnosis, treatment and research are continuously
transformed by new methods and insights derived from fields as
seemingly disconnected from health as physics, chemistry,
engineering, computing, and mathematics. In the years ahead,
networked supercomputers, linked with the life sciences, that
operate at speeds of over one thousand trillion operations per
second will have implications as profound as the industrial
revolution’s spread of technology.

“Two immense forces have emerged in recent decades to transform
the way all science is performed, just as they have altered the
conditions of our daily lives: access to powerful computing, and
the technology of instrumentation which provides inexpensive
means of sensing and analyzing our environment. These have
opened entirely new horizons in every field of science from
particle physics to medicine. Nanotechnology, for example, – the
ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular level –
and molecular medicine – the ability to tailor life essential
substances atom by atom – both owe their capabilities to advances
in computing and instrumentation.

“These forces are influencing our approach to each of the grand
challenges we face in the national missions of security,
environmental protection, healthcare, and education:

“National Security: Many factors have changed the face of war
over the past decade. And our expectations about terrorist
attacks on U.S. soil have been dramatically altered since
September 11. Science and technology can help the country
through innovations in detection technology, newly developed
vaccines, and advances in weaponry for our warfighters. Defense
technologies today depend increasingly on the commercial sector,
not only to make cutting edge technologies available, but also to
reduce the cost of defense procurements. For the last half
century, possession of superior technology has been the
cornerstone of our military preparedness. Such a strategy
requires a sustained investment in science and technology to
enable us to succeed in high priority missions, to minimize
casualties, and to mobilize all of our military services in
coordinated action. New technologies are necessary to strengthen
our efforts in counterproliferation, counterterrorism,
peacekeeping, and the stewardship of a safe and reliable nuclear
weapons stockpile.

“Environment: Creating new scientific knowledge and technology
to help us avoid environmental damage and its consequences is one
of the great challenges facing our research enterprise. Recent
advances in environmental science and technology hold enormous
promise for the creation of a sustainable future in which our
environmental health, our economic prosperity, and our quality of
life are mutually reinforcing. At the same time, our growing
knowledge has revealed vast gaps in our understanding of many
environmental issues, particularly the human influence on the
global climate. In the next 30 years, our population will grow
by 60 million people, almost 40,000 individuals per week. During
that same time, our economy is expected to double. Given such
trends, we must develop a new generation of technologies that can
supply the goods and services our society needs with less energy,
fewer materials, and far less environmental damage.

“Health Care: Medical advances have lengthened our average life
expectancy more than 60 percent beyond what it was nearly a
century ago. Scientific and technological breakthroughs are
providing new approaches to solving many of the long-standing
mysteries of life and its damaging diseases. Genetic medicine
offers us the greatest hope, but the ethical, legal, and social
implications of human genome research must also be addressed in
parallel with the scientific exploration and in a manner that
encourages maximum public involvement. The public sector has a
dual role – to facilitate the advances and to protect the
interests of the public, and in both ways serve as an advocate of
the public good. Our newest technologies must always incorporate
our oldest and most cherished human values. We will need to
reassess our public investments and adjust our science and
technology portfolio to reflect the new realities.

“Education: Our children carry our hopes for the future, and
preparing them for the twenty-first century is one of our most
important national priorities. More than half of our basic
research support has a dual benefit in that it is invested in our
universities where, in addition to generating new knowledge, new
talent is being trained for the future. In grades K-12, new
research can determine which educational technologies actually
work and how they can be improved. The degree to which our
nation flourishes in the twenty-first century will rest upon our
success in developing a well-educated citizenry and workforce
able to embrace the rapid pace of technological change. Quality
of education and equality of educational opportunity are central
to our political future. Yet as we work to develop the finest
scientific and engineering workforce, we must also address its
composition. Achieving diversity throughout the ranks presents a
formidable challenge; women and minorities are grossly
underrepresented in science and technology even though we are
becoming a more diverse society. If our scientific workforce is
to truly reflect the face of America, we must draw upon our full
talent pool.

“These scientific and technological challenges along with so many
others that we face in the years ahead are enormous – but so are
the combined strengths and resources of the American people. If
we sustain our investments in basic research, we can ensure that
the United States remains at the forefront of scientific
capability, thereby enhancing our ability to shape and improve
the world’s future.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this Administration
and my nation. I recognize the responsibilities and challenges
of this high office as Congress has prescribed them, and I
resolve to work as hard as I can to strengthen our scientific
enterprise to help our country reach its full potential.

“I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.”


Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094


SpaceRef staff editor.