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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Population And The American Future

The Report Of The Commission On Population Growth And The American Future

John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Chairman
March 27, 1972

Chapter 16:  Organizational Changes


Office of Population Affairs, Department of Health, Education and Welfare
National Institute of Population Sciences
Department of Community Development
Office of Population Growth and Distribution
Council of Social Advisers
Joint Committee on Population
State Population Agencies and Commissions
Private Efforts and Population Policy


 

A paradox exists within the federal government with regard to population. Although many departments and agencies administer programs which influence and are influenced by population growth and distribution, these subjects have not, until very recently, been of specific concern to either the executive or legislative branches. This Commission has made a number of recommendations directed toward: (1) increasing public knowledge of the causes and consequences of population change; (2) facilitating and guiding the processes of population movement; (3) maximizing information about human reproduction and its consequences for the family; and (4) enabling individuals to avoid unwanted fertility.1

Many of these recommendations require governmental action, and some can be carried out by existing structures. But, in many cases, the recommendations illustrate the need for changes in governmental structure in order to acknowledge and deal with population issues, and to conduct research, develop policy, and administer programs more effectively. In addition, legislative review of population-related programs needs to be improved. We believe that both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government must give greater attention to population-related issues and programs.

The Commission recommends that organizational chances be undertaken to improve the federal government’s capacity to develop and implement population-related programs; and to evaluate the interaction between public policies, pro grams, and population trends.


Office of Population Affairs, Department of
Health, Education and Welfare

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare was the first federal agency to begin giving serious attention to population-related problems and is the major locus for both family planning services and population research. In 1967, the Secretary appointed a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population and Family Planning. Subsequently, the title was changed to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs. P.L. 91-572, passed in 1970, requires the Deputy Assistant Secretary to administer all family planning service and population research programs of the Department, provide and support training of personnel, serve as a clearinghouse for information, provide liaison with other agencies of the federal government that have responsibilities relating to family planning services and population research, and coordinate other Department of Health, Education and Welfare programs that relate to these fields.

During consideration of P.L. 91-572, the Department announced that, in addition to the proposed statutory powers, the Deputy Assistant Secretary would have line authority over the contraceptive evaluation program of the Food and Drug Administration, responsibility for preparation and presentation of budgets for family planning services and population research, and adequate staff to carry out his responsibilities. This authority would be exercised through two officials selected by the Deputy Assistant Secretary and who would have dual appointments within the Department. One would be named as an Assistant Director of the National Institutes of Health for Population Research, and the other as an Assistant Administrator of the Health Services and Mental Health Administration for Family Planning Services. Both would also serve as special assistants to the Deputy Assistant Secretary. Most of these arrangements have not yet been carried out.

Recently, the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare gave the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs overall departmental responsibility for coordinating population education. As yet, however, there is no staff and only a small budget has been requested to carry out this program.

We believe that creation of the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary and the Office of Population Affairs was a step toward giving population-related programs in the Department the overall direction and coordination which they need. Although there has been some progress in this direction, it has been limited by failure to carry through on the specified arrangements.

We recommend that the capacity of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the population field be substantially increased by strengthening the Office of Population Affairs and expanding its staff in order to augment its role of leadership within the Department.


National Institute of Population Sciences

As we noted earlier, the financial commitment to population research is not sufficient to deal with the problems presented. The Commission believes that the institutional framework for the population research program is also inadequate.

The primary focus of the federal population research program is the Center for Population Research —an operating unit of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The Center supports research in the development of new contraceptives, the medical effects of existing methods of fertility control, and the social and behavioral aspects of population change. Although creation of the Center was a worthwhile development in 1968 when the government was first beginning to acknowledge the need for population research, the program has now outgrown this organizational arrangement.

In addition to population research, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development houses research programs in aging and early childhood development. Both of these are important fields, requiring significant research efforts, but population research has been growing at a much faster rate than the other two programs. This results in two problems. First, advocates of research in aging and early childhood development believe that population research is being advanced at the expense of their programs. Second, administrators of the Institute have felt it necessary to maintain some balance among its programs. This appears to be at least part of the reason why population research has not been funded at its authorized levels. If all of the funds recommended by this Commission for population research in fiscal year 1973 were approved, it would be funded at a level greater than the other programs combined. It is apparent that the additional large increases recommended by the Commission for ensuing years will be difficult if not impossible to achieve under the present arrangement. All three areas of research —aging, early childhood development, and population research— could benefit from moving the population research program from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

A greatly expanded and more focused population research effort is needed. In addition to strengthening programs in basic and applied reproductive research and evaluation of contraceptives, the behavioral research program must be significantly enlarged. In addition, the population research program must have the prestige to attract the very best investigators.

Creation of a separate institute should provide a stronger base from which this increased effort can be directed. It would facilitate acquisition of qualified personnel, laboratory and clinical space, and other resources necessary for a diversified research program. It would increase the visibility of the population research program, signal to the world that it ranks high among our research priorities, and should help in commanding the level of funding that we believe is necessary but which has not been forthcoming.

We therefore recommend the establishment, within the National Institutes of Health, of a National Institute of Population Sciences to provide an adequate institutional framework for implementing a greatly expanded program of population research.


Department of Community Development

Programs affecting population distribution are scattered throughout the government. For example, the problems of growth and development of urban, suburban, and rural communities are closely related but, depending on their size, communities that seek help for planning and constructing public facilities must deal with one or more of three different departments that support these activities.

We believe it is necessary to make organizational changes to coordinate and, in some cases, consolidate existing urban and rural development programs and provide a locus for the studies of population growth and distribution necessary for policy development and program implementation in the areas of housing, economic development, transportation, and other related fields.

Congress is currently considering legislation that would establish a new Department of Community Development.* Under this proposed reorganization, a single federal department would administer the major programs of assistance for the physical and institutional development of communities —for planning and building houses, for supporting public facilities and highways, and for strengthening state and local governmental processes. Among the programs which the reorganization would move to this Department would be all of the programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (except for the college housing program); the highway construction and mass transit programs of the Department of Transportation; the rural electrification, public facilities, and housing programs of the Department of Agriculture; the programs of financial and planning assistance for public works and development facilities (except business development) of the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, and that Department’s Regional Action Planning Commissions; and the Community Action and “special impact” programs of the Office of Economic Opportunity.

* A separate statement by Commissioner Alan Cranston appears on page 153.

This proposal is one of four submitted by President Nixon for reorganization of the federal departments. Each of them raises a great number of issues that are not our concern and on which we are not qualified to comment. However, from the perspective of better facilitating and guiding population distribution, coordination and consolidation of urban and rural development programs is essential. The proposal for the Department of Community Development does not include a specific provision for the increased research in population growth and distribution which we feel is necessary for adequate policy formulation and program development within its areas of concern. This should be provided for in the new Department.

We therefore recommend that Congress adopt legislation to establish a Department of Community Development and that this Department undertake a program of research on the interactions of population growth and distribution and the programs it administers.


There are other functions necessary to the formulation of a coherent national development policy which we believe cannot be handled adequately at the departmental level, but require a higher level of authority and perspective. These are discussed in the next section.


Office of Population Growth and Distribution

Our government has no explicit population policy. Federal programs generally operate without regard to their effects upon population growth and distribution or how shifts in population patterns affect programs. The Commission believes that population-related factors must be given much more weight in the future development and implementation of a variety of federal policies and programs. Moreover, the content of a population policy would not be inflexible, but would need to be adjusted over time in the light of emerging developments, increased knowledge, and changing attitudes of both policy makers and the general public. To accomplish this requires much more than strengthening the Office of Population Affairs within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare or establishing a Department of Community Development.

What is needed is an organizational unit with the ability to take the broadest possible view of population issues, to transcend individual departmental points of view, and to develop and formulate coherent population policies. This can be done most effectively from the Executive Office of the President which is able to coordinate the activities of all departments. This new office should:

Establish objectives and criteria for shaping national growth and distribution policies.

Monitor, anticipate, and appraise the effects on population of all governmental activities —including health, education, and welfare programs; urban and rural development programs; defense procurement policies; and tax laws— and the effect that population growth and distribution will have on the implementation of all governmental programs.

Provide for the review, integration, and coordination of population programs, giving consideration to the role played by nongovernmental resources and institutions.

Assume responsibility for preparation and submission of the biennial Report on Urban Growth required by the Housing Act of 1970.

Assist state and other units of government concerned about population matters in dealing with their problems.

In order to carry out effectively the monitoring of federal policies for their effect upon growth and distribution, the office should have the power to require, from federal agencies, statements indicating that an agency has given consideration to possible population-related effects of proposed programs and how programs in operation have affected population growth and distribution.

The Office should report to the President and the Congress annually. There should be an Advisory Committee composed of experts in various population related fields, representatives of interested groups, and other citizens. It is essential that such an office be provided with the staff and funds necessary to carry out this range of activities. To create an office within the Executive Office of the President, and then require it to rely upon staff work from other federal agencies would hinder drastically the development of the broad and impartial perspective that is needed.

We therefore recommend the creation of an Office of Population Growth and Distribution within the Executive Office of the President.

There are a number of advisory bodies within the Executive Office of the President that have broad responsibilities over other areas of concern. These agencies have not, in the past, given sufficient consideration to the effects of demographic variables on the nation’s economic, social, environmental, and scientific life.

We therefore recommend the immediate addition of personnel with demographic expertise to the staffs of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Domestic Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology.


Council of Social Advisers

Two years of study and deliberation have demonstrated to us that population is intimately tied to numerous social issues. Yet, innumerable social programs are undertaken by the government each year without having any of the overall direction that we have imposed upon our economic and environmental activities. The Council of Economic Advisers and the Council on Environmental Quality keep the President and the public informed of the effects of public needs and policies with regard to the economy and the environment and recommend programs to assist economic growth and stability and to preserve the environment. The Commission believes that population and related social matters require the same level of attention.

We therefore recommend that Congress approve pending legislation establishing a Council of Social Advisers and that this Council have as one of its main functions the monitoring of demographic variables.


If this legislation is passed, if the Council is adequately funded and staffed, and if it shows that it will give proper consideration to population problems, then it could and should take over the functions and role of the Office of Population Growth and Distribution.


Joint Committee on Population

Congress has been the arm of government most interested in population problems. It was the hearings conducted by Senator Gruening, beginning in 1965, that first focused public attention on the need for federally subsidized family planning and population research programs. The urban growth policy provisions of the Housing Act of 1970 were a congressional initiative, and several bills urging the establishment of a Commission on Population were introduced in Congress as early as 1967.

However, jurisdiction over population-related programs is scattered among many committees of Congress. The P.L. 91-572 family planning services and population research programs are within the purview of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives. But family planning services authorized by the Social Security Act and the Economic Opportunity Act fall under the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means and the Education and Labor Committees respectively. Housing legislation is handled by the banking committees of the House and Senate, while transportation is the concern of the commerce committees. It is impossible to combine jurisdiction over the many issues relating to population under one committee. However, if congressional review of population matters is to be most effective, some focal point within Congress is necessary. One committee should have responsibility for studying issues from the perspective of their effect upon population growth and distribution, for spotlighting problems, and for reviewing the implementation of federal programs in these areas.

In order to provide improved legislative oversight of population issues, the Commission recommends that Congress assign to a joint committee responsibility for specific review of this area.


State Population Agencies and Commissions

Many of the recommendations of this Commission require action by state and local governments. However, only a few states have agencies which give serious attention to the problems of population growth and distribution. One example of high-level attention to state population problems is the recent report and recommendations of the California State Assembly Science and Technology Advisory Council.

Only one state, Hawaii, has established a population agency, and it is temporary. A poll conducted by he State of Hawaii Commission on Population Stabilization showed that 22 states have no specific agency concerned with these problems. In most of the remaining states, population is the concern of planning, resource, or environmental agencies. However, in responding to the Hawaii poll, 27 states indicated that hey considered population growth a problem; four taxes viewed population loss as a problem; and 12 states responded that distribution is a problem, including six which define the problem as one of both growth and distribution. Forty-one states reported that they would like to meet with representatives of other states to discuss population and what might be done at federal and state levels to influence growth. This interest and concern should be stimulated.

The Commission recommends that state governments, either through existing planning agencies or through new agencies devoted to this purpose, give greater attention to the problems of population growth and distribution.


Private Efforts and Population Policy

We have taken the position that population growth, size, and distribution are too important to be left to chance in the formation of public policy, and that they require a continuing and conscious effort by government to assess the demographic impacts of alternative policy proposals. We believe that population problems are complex, that they are and will continue o be of critical importance to American society, that ye are only in the beginning stages of learning how to deal with these problems as a matter of conscious policy and programming, and that these problems will require sustained attention over a period of years.

To maximize the government’s ability to cope with population issues requires that the private sector use its independence and flexibility to facilitate policy formation. This may be done through policy-oriented research and analysis, monitoring and assessing change, education and training, and communication of the results of these processes to relevant publics. The private institutions which currently have some relationship to population policy include universities, voluntary and professional organizations, citizens groups, private corporations, and, private foundations. The normal interests of these institutions, individually or collectively, do not presently ensure an adequate overall private effort.

For example, the normal interests of discipline-oriented academic institutions do not necessarily assign priority to studies essential to policy formation. Even when academic research produces findings directly relevant to policy formation, they are often not made available in forms which are understandable to and usable by policy makers. Many critical policy-related studies in the last decade did not emerge as planned products of the academic research on which they were based, but rather as a result of reanalysis stimulated by groups closer to the policy-formation process.

Similarly, universities and other institutions which have as their primary focus the population problems of developing countries do not have the funds and personnel to be effective in policy formation at home. Domestic population questions are complex enough to require full-time concentration and commitment, free of pressure from other priorities.

This concept of private support for research and policy development has been utilized to deal with other issues. For example, several independent organizations are devoted to research, education, and publication in the field of economic policy. Among their purposes are aiding the development of sound public policies and promoting public understanding of issues of national importance. There is no reason to specify an exact organizational model for activity required in the population field, but we are at a stage of development in this area where major privately funded activities in development of population policy are required.

We therefore recommend that a substantially greater effort focusing on policy-oriented research and analysis of population in the United States be carried forward through appropriate private resources and agencies.

 
[Return to Rockefeller Table of Contents. Go to Separate Statements.]

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