Courtesy Reuters

Policy and the Scientists

Since the time of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, scientists and engineers have participated in the high councils of this nation. Though these men were not elevated to high office because they were scientists and engineers, there have been many cases in which scientists, as scientists, have had a conspicuous influence on the activities and policies of our federal government.

One need not be in public office, of course, in order to have an important influence in national affairs. Indeed, the vast program of industrial and technological development of this country has been carried forward by scientists and engineers working within the private enterprise system- advancing our scientific knowledge as well as building railroads, steel mills, agricultural equipment, oil wells, dams, electric power systems and all the rest. They clearly have had an important influence on public affairs, as did hosts of other private citizens who never left their private occupations to accept government posts.

Let us look, however, at the ways in which scientists or engineers have directly participated in the operations of the federal government.

The employment of scientists by the government to work as scientists is not a new phenomenon. For a long time the military services, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Geological Survey, the National Bureau of Standards, the Smithsonian Institution and other agencies have employed technical personnel. But this situation has changed so markedly since 1940 that it is to this period that we shall direct our attention.

It is obvious that there are many ways in which scientists[i] can participate in federal affairs. It will be useful to list some of these, recognizing that some individuals could be classified-simultaneously or successively-in two or more categories.

The scientist may be employed in a government laboratory, such as the Naval Research Laboratory, an army "arsenal," the National Bureau of Standards or the National Institutes of Health.

He may work in a laboratory which is operated under a government contract by either a university, a

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.