Second only to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science, technology, and education for the common good over the next quarter century.1

The challenge is for government to recognize when S&T expertise is needed and to find the best means of managing S&T and incorporating S&T into its programs and policies.2 Our most critical asset in meeting this goal is our intellectual capital—the hundreds of thousands of highly trained and expert scientists, engineers, and health professionals who work with what is known in the world of S&T and recognize what is not known. At no other time in our history has it been so vital to attract scientists and engineers into the highest levels of public service, either as political appointees in top leadership positions or as members of the many advisory committees providing scientific and technical advice to executive agencies.

Presidentially appointed executives in fewer than 100 positions form the core leadership of the government’s role in S&T. Those positions reside in the Executive Office of the President and in the agencies and departments that support scientific, engineering, and industrial research and development; manage large-scale defense, space, energy, health research, and environment programs; and regulate activities that have large technology components.

Most of the top S&T positions must be held by scientists, engineers, or health professionals with the specific expertise necessary for fulfillment of their responsibilities. They are often recruited into public service from academic or industrial research organizations. Those high-level officials make critical decisions at the point where government policies intersect with S&T. Thus, it


U.S. National Commission on National Security/21st Century. 2001. Roadmap for Security: Imperative for Change (known as the “Hart-Rudman” report). p. 30.


See Appendix GA Decision-Maker’s Guide to Science Advising.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement