The Advisers: Scientists in the Policy Process

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America's governing system is unique in the extent to which scientists and other outside experts participate in the policy process. No other nation uses these experts so extensively, not merely for advice on the allocation of resources to science but also in broad policy issues. This wide-ranging study traces the rise of scientists in the policy process and shows how outside experts interrelate with politicians and administrators to produce a unique and dynamic policy process. It also shows how the very openness of American government creates the potential for unusual conflicts of interest. Bruce Smith focuses on the experience of agency and presidential-level advisory systems over the past several decades. He chronicles the special complexities and challenges resulting from the Federal Advisory Committee Act--the "open meeting" law--to provide a better understanding of the role of advisory committees and offers valuable lessons to guide their future use. He looks at science advice in the Departments of Defense, State, and Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and then examines how science advisory mechanisms have worked at the White House. Rather than simply providing a description of structures and institutions, Smith shows the advisory systems in action--how advisory systems work or fail to work in practice. He analyzes how the advisers influence the policymaking process and affect the life of the agencies they serve. Smith concludes with an assessment of the relationship between science advice and American democracy. He explains that the widespread use of outside advisers clearly reflects America's preference for pluralism. By scrutinizing agency plans, goals, and operations, advisers and advisory committees serve a variety of functions and attempt to strike a balance between openness and citizen access to government and the need for discipline and sophisticated expertise in policymaking. At the
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815779896
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Political Role of the Science Adviser 1
Key Questions 2
Some Preliminary Boundaries 3
Judging Success 5
An American Phenomenon 7
2 The Changing Legal and Institutional Framework for Science Advice 11
The Founders, Science, and the New Democracy 11
The First Advisory Committees 14
Technical Advice in the Nineteenth Century 16
The Twentieth Century 17
Efforts to Reform the System 19
The Adoption of the Federal Advisory Committee Act 21
Key Provisions of the FACA 26
Conflicts of Interest 31
The Evolution and Management of the Advisory System 36
Summary 45
3 The Effective Use of Science Advisers: The Defense Science Board 48
Background and Origins 49
The Foundations of the DSB 50
Early History 52
Maturity 54
The DSB in Operation 58
Current Trends and Problems 60
Advisers and Policymakers 64
4 Science, Law, and Regulation: The EPA Science Advisory Board 68
Science Advice at the EPA 69
The EPA Science Advisory Board 74
The First Reagan Term 89
Maturity: Gains in Status and Influence 92
The Contemporary SAB 95
Epilogue 98
5 Advice, Policy Ambiguity, and Goal Confusion: The Department of Energy 101
Background 102
Early History 103
The 1980s 106
Other DOE Technical Advisory Committees 110
Conflicts of Interest 111
Impact of Studies by the Energy Research Advisory Board 112
The Watkins Era 113
Conclusions 118
6 Symbolic Politics and the Search for Public Support: The NASA Advisory Council 122
Insiders versus Outsiders 128
A Lack of Dissent 131
The Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program 132
7 Strangers in a Strange Land: Science Advisers in the State Department 137
Background 137
Recreation of the Advisory Committee 141
Explaining the Failure 144
The Reagan Era 147
Conclusions 150
8 Science Advisers at the Presidential Level 155
Does the President Need Science Advice? 157
A Brief History of Presidential Science Advice 160
The Fall and Rise of the Presidential Science Advisory System 169
Science and Presidential Policymaking: The Bush Administration 179
Conclusions 185
9 Science Advice and American Democracy 189
Future Challenges 191
The Meaning of "Fair Balance" in the Advisory System 192
Should the Federal Advisory Committee Act Be Amended? 194
Conflicts of Interest 197
Should Scientists Provide Technical Advice Only? 200
Conclusions 204
Notes 209
Index 231
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