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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on federal Research and Development Contracts.

May 01, 1962

[Released May 1, 1962. Dated April 30, 1962]

Dear Mr.___________:

I transmit herewith for the information of the Senate (House) a report on Government Contracting for Research and Development, prepared at my request by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, with the participation of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Chairman of the United States Civil Service Commission, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Director of the National Science foundation, and the Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.

I have approved the report and have transmitted it to the heads of departments and agencies for their guidance and action.

The subjects discussed in the report will, I believe, be of particular interest to several committees of the Congress which are concerned with various aspects of the complex problems resulting from the rapid growth of federal research and development programs. These include: criteria for deciding whether to contract out research and development work; improving policies and practices applying to research and development contracting; avoiding possible conflicts of interest by Government contractors; and improving the Government's ability to carry out research and development work directly.

It is plain that the Government's research and development effort must continue to rely heavily on contracts with non-federal institutions, in order to combine the scientific and technical talents and facilities of the Nation's colleges and universities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other private institutions with the Government's own scientific and technical resources. This report points the way to a number of improvements in the present system for conducting the Government's research and development program--improvements which can and will be undertaken by the Executive Branch under existing authority.

I wish to call particular attention to the conclusions reached in the report regarding federal salaries. Those who prepared the report--including the heads of the Government's three largest research and development agencies: the Department of Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-have stated in the strongest terms the need to raise federal salaries, especially in the higher grades, if the Government is to obtain and hold first-class scientists, engineers, and administrators. If we are not able to pay these men salaries reasonably comparable with what they can earn in private employment, we cannot hope to have enough of them in Government to ensure the effective application of science and technology to the great national problems of defense, atomic energy, space exploration, medical research, development assistance, and many other programs heavily dependent on research and development.

Consequently, I most strongly urge action at this session of the Congress to reform the federal pay structure in accordance with the principle of comparability, as recommended in my message of February 20, 1962.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The report, dated April 30, 1962 (31 PP- processed), was released with the President's message. Also released was the President's memorandum transmitting the report to the heads of departments and agencies.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on federal Research and Development Contracts. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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