A Report on the Present Functions and Operations of the National Bureau of Standards

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Science  12 Feb 1954:
Vol. 119, Issue 3085, pp. 195-200
DOI: 10.1126/science.119.3085.195


From the Committee's extensive study of the Bureau's functions, its programs for discharging these functions, the facilities of the Bureau and its professional personnel, as well as from discussions with many scientists and engineers, it has reached some general conclusions. The major ones are listed:

1. The Bureau of Standards is of vital importance to national strength.

2. It is an organization with a splendid record and tradition, internationally recognized and respected.

3. It is, in general, staffed with professional men of competence, integrity and loyalty to the Bureau's functions and objectives.

4. With the increasing range and depth of technology, the need for the services of the Bureau of Standards becomes even more important and its functions more complex. The accurate determination of physical constants, the properties of materials, standards and standards practices and testing and evaluation procedures are all essential serviees for our industrial society.

5. Since the close of the war the technology of the nation has shot rapidly forward. The Bureau's basic programs expanded until 1950 but at a rate beneath that justified by the needs. Since 1950 the decrease in basic programs must be considered as tragic. The ground lost since 1950 should be regained in the next two fiscal years and the programs then expanded as detailed studies by the Director and his advisory committees find necessary.

6. Scientific and technical services to other agencies of Government are important responsibilities of the Bureau. In general, the Bureau has discharged these responsibilities well.

7. The Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission have made broad and significant use of the Bureau. Their use of the Bureau in areas other than development of weapons is of value to the Bureau in its basic programs and should be encouraged.

8. The volume of weaponry development work has become large in comparison with all other activities of the Bureau. Its relative size and its effects on the other Bureau programs make its transfer from the Bureau desirable.

9. Other agencies of Government do not make as large use of the services of the Bureau as might well be expected. The Committee believes that an increase in the use of the Bureau by other agencies of Government should be encouraged.

10. If the recommendations of the Committee are followed, the Bureau should be in a positon to perform its authorized functions in balance at the minimum level for the nation's needs within a four-year period.