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Letter to the Chairman, Science Advisory Committee

April 20, 1951

My dear Dr. Buckley:

For some time, I have been considering the best means whereby scientists of the country could be assisted and encouraged in their participation in the mobilization program. At the same time, I have been increasingly mindful of the many demands which the Federal programs are placing upon scientific resources, and of the reliance which the Government properly places upon the successful prosecution of scientific research and development activities.

The Federal Government has a considerable number of agencies engaged in research and development activities of significance for both peacetime purposes and national defense. There are currently in existence a number of arrangements for coordinating segments of the work of these agencies. I have been concerned, however, that our existing arrangements do not provide adequate liaison among the agencies principally concerned with our national research and development effort, nor between them and the Office of Defense Mobilization. Such liaison is obviously essential to securing the full contribution of scientists to our defense planning.

I have therefore determined to establish a Science Advisory Committee of the Office of Defense Mobilization, to be available to the Defense Mobilization Director and to me,

a. To provide independent advice on scientific matters especially as regards the objectives and interrelations of the several Federal agencies engaged in research of defense significance, including relevant foreign relations and intelligence matters.

b. To advise on progress being made in dealing with current scientific research problems of defense significance and also concerning defense research matters which need greater attention or emphasis.

c. To advise concerning plans and methods for the implementation of scientific effort for defense.

d. For transmitting the views of the scientific community of the country on research and development matters of national defense significance.

I am therefore appointing you as Chairman, and am asking the following to serve as members of the Committee: Dr. Detlev W. Bronk, as President of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. William Webster, as Chairman of the Research and Development Board, Dr. Alan Waterman, as Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Hugh Dryden of the Interdepartmental Committee on Scientific Research and Development, Dr. James B. Conant, Dr. Lee DuBridge, Dr. James R. Killian, Dr. Robert F. Loeb, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Dr. Charles A. Thomas.

I have discussed the creation of this Committee and its functions with Mr. Charles E. Wilson, as much of its work will be related to his responsibilities as Defense Mobilization Director. We are in agreement that the Committee should be established within the Office of Defense Mobilization. In this way, it will be in a direct position to participate in the mobilization program directed by Mr. Wilson as it affects scientific research and development. It will likewise be in a position to advise both Mr. Wilson and me concerning the interrelationship of the mobilization program and the achievement of our long-range objectives of continued progress in scientific research and development.

I am forwarding copies of this letter to the heads of the Government agencies primarily concerned with research and development activities with the request that they extend you their full cooperation. Likewise, I expect that you will freely call on private scientific groups and individuals for assistance. I shall welcome the recommendations of the Committee and shall call upon it for advice from time to time.
Sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Dr. Oliver E. Buckley, President, Bell Telephone Laboratories, 463 West Street, New York 14, N.Y.]

NOTE: A White House release of April 20, announcing the membership of the Science Advisory Committee, contained a summary of the letter to Dr. Buckley, dated April 19.