Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 03:30 PM

Dr. Ralph Cicerone

Testimony of
Ralph J. Cicerone
National Academy of Sciences
National Research Council
The National Academies

before the

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
U.S. Senate

October 18, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  The NAS was chartered by Congress in 1863 and President Lincoln signed that charter. I also serve as Chairperson of the National Research Council.  Together with the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine we comprise the National Academies.  We are private, non-profit, and independent organizations and we respond to requests for independent and objective studies on challenging subjects involving science, technology and medicine.   Most of our work is by request of the federal government.  We are honored to undertake the task that is going to be reported to you today; it was directed to us by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, with strong endorsements by Representatives Sherwood Boehlert and Bart Gordon of the House Science Committee. 

Usually we work through committees of experts in our studies of the National Academies and the National Research Council, experts who serve without pay. That is the case again with the report that you are about to hear summarized today from our Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century.  This committee is unusually distinguished.  It is comprised of very, very busy men and women who are individually and as a group, very extraordinary Americans.  The group consisted of several corporate CEOs, university presidents, three Nobel Prize winners, several past presidential appointees, and distinguished teachers.   The chairman of the committee is here with us today. He is Mr. Norman Augustine and he will summarize the report and its recommendations.

By way of background, Mr. Norman Augustine was chairman of the board and CEO of Lockheed Martin earlier in his career.  He was an Under Secretary of the Army and an Assistant Director of Defense for the United States.  He is former chairman of the American Red Cross, former chairman of the Defense Science Board.  He serves on the Council of the President of the United States’ Advisors on Science and Technology and he is a winner of the National Medal of Technology.   He is also an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering.

In just a moment, Mr. Augustine will provide an overview of the report.  The committee worked over a very short period of time, during which they analyzed data from a wide variety of sources, made their own observations, and read the views of, and interacted with many other experts from all walks of life during the summer – and a short part of the summer.  And then they responded to criticisms and suggestions from anonymous reviewers who were selected by the National Academies. In looking over the data in this report, I think that each one of us would be taken by the variety of indicators that they have drawn from.  There may be no one indicator that convinces you completely, but when you add them all together, I think the committee has come up with a rather compelling argument and case. 

I would like to add one more observation to the indicators with which they worked. Namely, we at the National Academies asked 21 people to serve on this committee, to drop what they were doing in August, and work hard on this task because of the deadline, and the time scale on which Senator Alexander and Senator Bingaman needed recommendations on actions that the federal government might usefully take.  You will notice that we ended up with 20 members on this committee. That level of acceptance of our invitations by highly accomplished people, dropping all other commitments, personal, corporate, and otherwise, was truly amazing.  It is a measure of the dedication to the task and their willingness to work, once again, on behalf of the country.  So let me turn it over now to Mr. Augustine who chaired the committee.