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Science Adviser Urged for White House

February 14, 1988|THOMAS H. MAUGH II | Times Science Writer

BOSTON — The next President of the United States should place much more emphasis on science policy, leading scientists said here Saturday.

In fact, he should appoint a science adviser during the transition period before he takes office, they said.

And once selected, that adviser should play a critical role in the selection of cabinet members and other officials who have a policy role in scientific issues, they said.

The President might even consider creating a cabinet-level secretary of science and technology, the scientists urged at a meeting of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.

'Much More Eager'

"Scientists are much more eager to have the President ask them for advice than presidents seem to be to solicit it," said Lewis Branscomb, a former chief scientist at IBM Corp. and head of the National Bureau of Standards who is now at Harvard University.

The need for good science advice is particularly acute because of the growing number of multibillion-dollar science-based projects that are under way, the scientists agreed. Among the projects are a new space shuttle, the superconducting super collider particle accelerator, the Human Genome Initiative to map all human genetic information and the National Aerospace Plane, also known as the Orient Express.

"We don't have a uniform process for making choices" among those projects if it becomes necessary to make such choices, said Roland W. Schmitt, president of the National Science Board.

And many scientists believe that such a choice is inevitable because too many promises have been made to scientists and other special interest groups.

'$100-Billion Problem'

"I should be very surprised if there isn't a $100-billion problem of shakeout and reordering, and rescheduling, and stretchout and postponement . . . by the midpoint of the next President's first term," said William D. Carey of the Carnegie Corp., the former executive officer of science advancement association.

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