Raymond Orbach's nomination hearing to be Director of DOE's Office
of Science, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
was brief and positive. Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) extolled Orbach's
distinguished career as a physicist and as Chancellor of the University
of California Riverside. Orbach was introduced by California Senator
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who called him "a most able nominee."
Wishing Orbach well and voicing strong support for the nomination, Bingaman
departed. As frequently happens at hearings, only Feinstein was left
to hear Orbach's statement. She commented that the absence of other
committee members meant that "your appointment has absolutely no
controversy associated with it," an indication that the nomination
should easily be forwarded to the full Senate.
Feinstein asked several brief questions about prioritizing DOE's basic
research programs and about conflicts between national security and
scientific progress at the national labs. Orbach said he would work
with the Administration and Congress to determine what was important
for the country, and try to "bring as sensible a balance as I could"
to support across the scientific spectrum. He agreed that tension has
always existed between security concerns and the academic culture of
science, and that "security has to come first," but added
that the scientists he has met at the labs "are fully aware"
of their responsibilities in that area. In closing, Feinstein remarked
that Orbach was "superbly qualified" to direct the Office
The main portion of Orbach's written statement is quoted below:
"Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: It is a
privilege to appear before you today as the President's nominee for
Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, to
have the opportunity to talk with you, and to answer any questions
you may ask. I am honored by the President's and Secretary Abraham's
confidence in me and I would like to thank them both for their support."
"The Director of the Office of Science serves as the
Science Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, and is the Vice Chair
of the Department's Research and Development Council. The Office of
Science is the steward and principal funding agency of the Nation's
research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion
energy sciences. It manages important programs of fundamental research
in basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences, and
computational science, all of which also support the missions of the
Department. An example of the extraordinary value of these efforts
are the insights being gleaned from the Human Genome Program, an effort
initiated by the Office of Science.
"The Office is responsible for the overall health, well
being, and management of ten laboratories, DOE-owned and contractor
operated, recognized internationally for their scientific excellence,
for constructing and operating large scientific user facilities, and
for providing leadership on a world scale for scientific initiatives.
The strength of the United States' economy and defense is dependent
in large part on the successful stewardship of science at the Office
of Science and her sister agencies.
"At this time of crisis, the strength of the scientific
community, both in teaching and research, forms the underpinning of
our technological response to terrorism, to homeland security, and
to the economic opportunities available to our citizenry. The mission
of the Office of Science is to provide our President and country with
the best science with which to implement our national energy policy.
These are awesome responsibilities, and if confirmed, I shall do my
best to provide the necessary leadership.
"I have been an active scientist for over 43 years.
I have been the recipient of generous federal support, both in terms
of graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, and research grants and
contracts from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval
Research. I have served for two decades in educational leadership
positions, while continuing my teaching and research activities. During
the past ten years as Chancellor of the University of California,
Riverside, I have taught the introductory course in Freshman physics
every year. I have been a champion of access to higher education for
all children. I have personally visited elementary, middle, and high
schools all over California and in Northern New Mexico, providing
the reasons why, the path to, and the support mechanisms for attending
college. I have seen my own campus nearly double in enrollment, becoming
the most ethnically diverse Research I university in the United States.
My mission has been to prove that a truly diverse student body can
succeed at the highest level of academic achievement.
"If confirmed as Director of the Office of Science,
I commit myself to work with you and your colleagues, listening to
your advice and direction. I intend to assist with the development
of not only the scientific research strength of this nation, but also
with the opportunity for everyone in our country to participate in
educational development at the highest intellectual level."