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During the 3 years that the National Bureau of Standards has served as administrator of the Standard Reference Data System I believe that a good start has been made toward satisfying the general obligation of supplying standard reference data to the American technical community. These years of operations have, however, revealed the need for additional authority from Congress in order to increase our effectiveness. The authorities needed are contained in the proposed legislation before you.
Although the start we have made is, in my opinion, good, it is only a start. A significantly higher level of effort is now needed in order to realize a greater share of the potential benefits. The proposed legislation provides mechanisms for the necessary funding of the program through a combination of congressional appropriations and user charges.
The President as well as Members of the Congress have frequently suggested that, whenever feasible, identifiable customer groups should be required to bear the costs, or at least part of the costs of specialized Federal services provided in their behalf. The authority requested in the proposed legislation would enable the Secretary to apply this principle to certain specialized information services that we propose to provide or have provided as a means of disseminating reference data in the forms most useful to users of the System.
In order for the standard reference data produced pursuant to regulations established by the Department of Commerce to be readily identified, we propose to adopt an easily recognizable symbol. In years to come, this symbol will stand as a signpost of quality; the technical community of the Nation will know that they can rely upon products bearing our sign.
To maintain the integrity of the symbol we need the authority to prevent others from using it without authorization from the Secretary, with penalties provided for unauthorized use. These provisions, which are included in the proposed legislation, also serve to protect the system of user charges by preventing unauthorized publication and sale of compilations bearing the symbol,
Finally, approval of this bill will make clear by statute the central responsibility of the Secretary of Commerce for establishing procedures for evaluating the data.
With these additional authorities, and with the support of this committee and of Congress, we are confident that we can make an important contribution toward increasing the total effectiveness of the Nation's research and development effort.
Mr. DADDARIO. Thank you, Dr. Hollomon.
Will you proceed, please, Dr. Astin? STATEMENT OF DR. ALLEN V. ASTIN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
BUREAU OF STANDARDS, ACCOMPANIED BY ALLEN J. FARRAR, LEGAL ADVISER, NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS Dr. ASTIN. Yes, thank you. I appreciate very much the opportunity to appear today in support of the Standard Reference Data Act, H.R. 15638. Enactment of this bill will significantly improve the ability of the National Bureau of Standards to perform a critically needed service for the Nation's tech
nological community. My statement today is complementary to that of Assistant Secretary J. Herbert Hollomon and will deal primarily with the way in which the National Bureau of Standards plans to implement the proposed legislation.
Throughout its history the National Bureau of Standards has undertaken the preparation of compilations of critically evaluated data for use by the technical community of the United States. Indeed, this type of activity is specifically authorized in section 2 of the Organic Act of the National Bureau of Standards, which states:
In carrying out the functions enumerated in this section, the Secretary, is authorized to undertake the following activities and similar ones for which need may arise * **: (19) the compilation and publication of general scientific and technical data resulting from the performance of the functions specified herein or from other sources when such data are of importance to scientific or manufacturing interests or to the general public, and are not available elsewhere. * * *
These compilations have proved to be extremely valuable to the Nation's research and development effort. I think it is safe to say that some data from NBS Circular 500, which Dr. Hollomon referred to and which I have here with me, "Selected Values of Chemical Thermodynamic Properties," have been used in the design of every chemical manufacturing plant and every rocket propulsion system built in the United States since the volume appeared. Similarly, the atomic energy level data from NBS Circular 467 have become definitive for studies of upper atmosphere physics, of stellar composition, and of laser mechanisms.
When it became apparent some years ago that the total national level of effort on the production of data compilations was not maintaining pace with the needs of scientists and engineers a few knowledgeable individuals, both within the National Bureau of Standards and throughout the scientific community, explored various ways of attacking the problem.
These studies led to the development of a plan for a decentralized operation with a small program management office located within NBS and data centers located throughout the country in laboratories where special competence existed. On learning of this plan, the Committee on Scientific Information—now the Committee on Scientific and Technical Information-brought it to the attention of the Federal Council for Science and Technology. This group, which had been concerned about the data situation for some time, endorsed a Federal policy statement establishing a Standard Reference Data System in order "to provide on a national basis critically evaluated data in the physical sciences."
This policy statement calls upon the National Bureau of Standards to assume responsibility for the administration of the Standard Reference Data System. The specific responsibilities enjoined upon NBS have already been listed in the statement of Dr. Hollomon. I would like to describe for you now the nature of the program we have embarked upon to meet our responsibilities.
The overall goal of the Standard Reference Data System is to provide to the technical community of the United States optimum access to critically evaluated quantitative data on the physical and chemical properties of substances and their interactions. The coverage is to be comprehensive, timely, and readily accessible.
Within the National Bureau of Standards the responsibility for administering the Standard Reference Data System has been assigned to the Office of Standard Reference Data created for that purpose within the Institute for Basic Standards. Dr. Edward Brady, Chief of that office, is here with us today.
Three major groups of activities within the Office of Standard Reference Data have been initiated; these are concerned with: (1) The planning and implementation of a series of data compilation activities organized according to technical scope; (2) an information systems design and research activity; and (3) a variety of specialized information services to be provided to the technical community by the Office of Standard Reference Data.
In developing and operating the data compilation program up to the present time, the Office of Standard Reference Data has established activities in seven broad categories of properties: (1) Nuclear properties; (2) atomic and molecular properties; (3) solid state properties; (4) thermodynamic and transport properties; (5) chemical kinetics; (6) colloid and surface properties; and (7) mechanical properties.
In each of these, responsibility for developing a comprehensive, coordinated program has been assigned to a Program Manager. Existing projects of other governmental and nongovernmental agencies are taken into account and project priorities are determined by consultation with groups of specialists from the academic world, from Government, and from industry.
Some of the projects are conducted within the experimental divisions of the National Bureau of Standards; others are in university laboratories or in other Government laboratories; a few are in industry. None are under the direct operational supervision of the Office of Standard Reference Data, which is exclusively for program management.
The data evaluation and compilation activity is normally conducted as part of the ongoing program of a productive experimental group, with an established reputation for competence and vigor. Data evaluation can only be done adequately by a specialist in the field, a person of mature experience whose judgment is respected by other experts.
The information systems design activity concentrates on the problems of handling data, on communications and connections between data centers, and
on the technology (hardware and software) required to make the data storehouse most available to the user in the U.S. technical community.
To place the information systems design into practice, a variety of services is being planned, making use of the storehouse of data in the NBS Standard Reference Data Center in Washington. This storehouse will eventually contain a complete collection of compilations of critically evaluated data produced throughout the world.
The services in the planning stage include supplying replies to specific inquiries, preparation of a "current awareness” publication, operation of a library of computer tapes and programs, and preparation of special data handbooks as needed by a particular group in the technical community. Other services may be added as the need becomes apparent. The authority requested in the proposed legislation would facilitate our ability to provide a variety of user services with the customer bearing an appropriate share of the cost of specialized services. Since fiscal year 1964, the National Bureau of Standards has conducted SRDS activities along the lines of the plan of operation just described. The needs of the technical community have been explored in cooperation with panels of specialists in each of the technical areas previously mentioned. Significant progress has been made in coordinating and extending existing coverage in some of the technical categories, especially in the areas of thermodynamics and transport properties and in atomic and molecular properties (which have been judged to be of highest priority for additional effort).
In the field of nuclear data, existing activities sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission provide coverage of the most important technical topics, although the level of effort needs to be increased to meet the rapid rate of appearance of new data. Greatly increased effort on newer kinds of solid state data-energy levels, band structure, interaction with radiations, et cetera-has been recommended by our solid state advisory panel.
In the field of chemical kinetics the first stage of the program has been the preparation of a series of critical reviews of the state of quantitative knowledge in selected aspects of the field. The activities in the area of colloid and surface properties are the result of a cooperative relationship with the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Committee on Colloid and Surface Chemistry, which had been planning an extensive program of data evaluation prior to the estabIishment of the Standard Reference Data System. A preliminary critical survey of the field of mechanical properties has been carried out in order to determine appropriate activities.
Continuing efforts have been initiated to establish and promote effective working relationships with program officers in other Government agencies-such as Atomic Energy Commission, Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and others—in order that the National Bureau of Standards program might be responsive to the needs of these agencies.
In some cases, jointly funded projects have been established. In others, Office of Standard Reference Data staff members have served as a means through which program officers in other agencies were able to locate the competent staff needed to undertake the compilation activities required for their missions. Steps have been taken to insure that
persons working in closely related areas are fully aware of each other's activities. The search for competent technical people willing to undertake data compilation and evaluation projects continues.
Modest NBS budgets for the first 3 years of operation, plus continued support by various other Government agencies which have a need for standard reference data, have enabled the National Standard Reference Data System to develop a few projects in the areas of greatest urgency. The present annual level of expenditures by all participants totals approximately $4 million, of which NBS obligates $1.5 million. Our present estimate of the level required to satisfy the high-priority needs of U.S. science and technology is four to five times the present level.
This judgment is based on the following sources of information: (a) The recommendations of advisory panels, which include many of the Nation's foremost scientists and engineers, (b) results of a survey of the needs for numerical data among 100,000 scientists and engineers, a survey conducted by the American Chemical Society, (c) numerous discussions with individual consultants and leaders of existing data compilation projects, (d) consultation with research and development program leaders in mission-oriented agencies, and (e) awareness of foreign and international data compilation activities and plans.
The proposed Standard Reference Data Act would enable us to apply user charges to the costs of the program. Therefore, the appropriations required would be reduced by the amounts realizable from such charges. Although these amounts cannot be estimated in advance with precision, our present estimates indicate that a significant, but perhaps not large, fraction of the total cost of operation would be recoverable.
In the development of the program of the Standard Reference Data System several alternative approaches have been considered. These alternatives may be summarized in the following way: (1) Continue the present pattern of uncoordinated response to especially urgent needs; (2) set narrower goals for NSRDS; (3) set broader goals for NSRDS; and (4) rely on the other approaches to the scientific information problem such as is envisioned in programs of Chemical Abstracts, the American Institute of Physics, the American Society for Metals, and other nongovernmental professional societies. Each of these possible alternatives will now be discussed.
(a) Continue present system: It was the deficiencies of the existing situation that led to the establishment of the Standard Reference Data System. Nevertheless, the technical effort of the United States was making progress in the absence of the SRDS, and it can continue to do so. A properly operated Standard Reference Data System may increase the overall efficiency of the Nation's technical activities by perhaps 1 percent or perhaps as much as 5 percent.
An inefficiency of this magnitude is tolerable in the total effort; indeed, it is hardly detectable. It cannot be claimed therefore that an essential goal of the United States will not be achieved if the SRDS is not fully implemented as rapidly as possible. It is claimed, however, that hundreds of millions of dollars will be unnecessarily spent in the achievement of those goals unless the SRDS is effectively implemented.
(6) Set narrower goals: The goals of the Standard Reference Data System have been circumscribed by the definition of the technical scope of the program. That is, the program is to be concerned with data on the intrinsic properties of well-defined substances and their interactions.
The goal of the 5-year program is to achieve 90 to 95 percent coverage of all the properties which are determined to be of high priority as determined by surveys and consultations with specialists. This goal has been set because it is achievable with the expenditure of modest funds, it is probably within the capability of available manpower in the United States, and the scope is harmonious with the traditional areas of expertise within the National Bureau of Standards.
Clearly, the goal could have been set at a more modest level. The practical realities of funding within the National Bureau of Stand