As the new Republican majority takes its place in Congress, we're beginning to see a fundamental questioning of a wide range of basic assumptions about how our government works. For example, I anticipate a serious examination of exactly what taxpayers should expect from the "technical experts"--scientists and engineers--whose research they fund.

So, as one of those engineers, I propose that we must be prepared for that examination with a clear and honest account of our reasons for expecting support. And, in fact, we should be prepared to forge a new social contract between us and our clients, the taxpayers--our own "Contract with America."

Given that so much--the nation's economy, health, environment--depends on trust and candor between these two groups, perhaps we should seek a breakthrough in understanding one another to rival the breakthroughs in our laboratories.

First, we should be prepared to admit that the public's "technical experts"--scientists and engineers--have...

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