Interview with Gart Westerhout on 19 July 1993

Description

Gart Westerhout, interviewed by Steven J. Dick at the U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington D.C. on 19 July 1993.

Creator

Papers of Gart Westerhout

Rights

Contact Archivist for rights information.

Type

Oral History

Interviewee

Gart Westerhout

Location

Original Format of Digital Item

Audio cassette tape

Interview Date

1993-07-19

Notes

This transcript is PART 4 of a series of seven interviews of Gart Westerhout by Steven J. Dick conducted between 19 February and 29 July 1993. The transcript of all interviews was checked and corrected by Dr. Westerhout in October 2000. The original audio tapes were deposited at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Because the interviews were conducted while both Westerhout and Dick were federal employees, there are no copyright restrictions on the interview. The interview is posted here as a supplement to the Papers of Gart Westerhout at the suggestion of Dr. Dick, who provided the transcript, with his permission and that of the Westerhout family.

Please bear in mind that: 1) This material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) An interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event.

Series

Additional Materials About Westerhout Series

Transcription

Begin Tape 4 Side A

Dick

Okay. This is Steve Dick, interviewing Dr. Westerhout again, on July 19, 1993, at his office. This is interview number four.

The last time, we went over some of the innovations during your time here at the Observatory with the optical interferometer, VLBI, and we talked about the astrometric satellite. We talked about budget and staff. I thought we'd start today with some discussion about the organization of the Observatory when you came and how it changed during the time that you were here. Just for the record, how was the Observatory organized when you came? That's a pretty straightforward question, but fifty years from now, people might be interested.

Westerhout

The same as it is now.

Dick

No.

Westerhout

No? Well, all right. There was a department list. The basic story was, shortly before I came, the line responsibility of the Scientific Director had been removed. Dr. Strand had written into his PD that all the scientific departments reported to him. He got that written in about four or five years earlier. He thought that was ideal because he was the big boss. But some funny things happened there, and Captain Smith, as soon as Strand retired, wrote that out, and Strand told me in no uncertain terms that I should immediately get that back in again, because that was no way to treat a decent astronomer, and other things like that. But I found it quite well working. I had absolutely no problems with it.

But the place was organized, in other words, with the Scientific Director being the technical advisor of the scientific departments. There was reporting directly to the Scientific Director, funnily enough, the Exploratory Development Staff. That were five or six people under Paul Routly. Not reporting directly to the Scientific Director was Flagstaff. Flagstaff station reported really to the Superintendent, but for all practical purposes, they also reported to the Scientific Director. But on the organization chart, you see Flagstaff reported to the Superintendent, the technical supervision by the Scientific Director, the exploratory development staff, EDS, reported directly to the Scientific Director.

That came about, of course, because of the fact that about a year earlier, during the so-called Black October, the astronomy and astrophysics division was abolished. That resulted in Dr. Routly, who was the head of that division, to be downgraded to a 13, and the Flagstaff station retaining their 14. I was going to say which at the time was Jerry Kron, but that's not true, because Ables was already in Flagstaff since two years, and Ables was a 14. He remained a 14, and sometime during my tenure Ables was promoted to a 15. Ables was promoted in September '78, a year after I got here, to a 15. So Ables retained his 14, Routly went down from a 15 to a 13, and the division was split into two parts--Flagstaff station and the EDS staff. The EDS staff reported directly to the Scientific Director.

Dick

You mean Flagstaff was a part of the A&A division?

Westerhout

Yes. Flagstaff was run by Routly. Routly was the head of the A&A division, which had Flagstaff as an out-station.

Dick

Of course, that's the way it was when Strand had been director of A&A.

Westerhout

Exactly.

Dick

So EDS was the remnant of what -

Westerhout

A&A.

Dick

Of A&A, which Strand had been the head of.

Westerhout

Exactly.

Dick

So it makes some sense that Strand wanted to keep EDS directly under him.

Westerhout

That did make sense, because he always worked closely with people like Varkey Kallarakal, although it meant that Worley also worked for him, and he couldn't stand Worley, even though he had hired him. That was mutual, obviously. But neither could he stand Routly, who he also had hired.

Dick

So Flagstaff was split off from A&A when?

Westerhout

It must have been in '76.

Dick

'76. Before you came.

Westerhout

Before I came. The year before I came. All these things happened when we changed from two transit circle divisions to one.

Dick

This whole Black October you referred to was the reorganization which Strand always claimed, I guess, was mandated by the Navy.

Westerhout

That's right. Then, of course, there were the regular departments, who at that time were called divisions--the transit circle division. There was one transit circle division. The Nautical Almanac office, it was called an office. Because there was a piece of legislation way back, that there shall be a Nautical Almanac office, that's why that was never called a department; it was called the Nautical Almanac office. In fact, now in A&A, Doggett still runs the Nautical Almanac Office within Astronomical Applications Department.

Dick

In other words, now there is no Nautical Almanac office with departmental status. It's a branch.

Westerhout

Right. But it's still called office. And then Time Service.

Dick

Let's go back to EDS. At some point, I think around 1980, that was combined with the transit circle division to form the astrometry division.

Westerhout

Yes. The question is, when was that? You said 1980?

Dick

It may have been a year or two later, but that's documented in the Sky With Ocean Joined, I remember, because in the December 1980 sesquicentennial symposia that we had, Routly gave a paper as head of the EDS staff.

Westerhout

That's right.

Dick

But by the time the Proceedings appeared a couple of years later, the two staffs had been combined as part of the transit circle.

Westerhout

You mentioned that in there.

Dick

Right. A footnote.

Westerhout

It was more like '82 or so, I think, because it was -

Dick

The Proceedings weren't published till '83, so that would make sense.

Westerhout

Let me think for a moment, because it doesn't make too much sense. Smith was here until '79, Vohden from '79 to '82. Yes, it was in '83, because I'm almost sure it was under Roberts. Captain Roberts was here for four years as Superintendent, and he was into making changes and so on.

Dick

What was the particular driving force behind this change?

Westerhout

There were two, really. One was that it had to be reorganized because the group got smaller and smaller. Miranian left, and in the end I think it was...Christy left, after having discovered the moon of Pluto, later went to work in Tucson for Hughes, basically because he felt he had no further career here. He was never upgraded to anything more than a 12.

Dick

Why is that, when you discover a moon of Pluto, you don't get a promotion?

Westerhout

That's probably what he discovered. He got written up enough. But, of course, Harrington took some of the shine away from him, by always being there up front and basically saying, "We have discovered it." That, I'm sure, Christy also found hard to take.

Dick

You were saying the two driving forces behind -

Westerhout

One was that it was getting too small and, two, Roberts sort of liked to do some reorganizing himself. So that was combined, and I had no particular objection to it, because it worked anyway. But at that point then, Routly became assistant to the Scientific Director.

Dick

That's right. I had forgotten that happened.

Westerhout

We tried to make that position a 14, and HRO, whatever they were called at that time, didn't want that to happen, so he stayed a 13. Then when he was here as assistant to the Scientific Director, boy, did I ever learn to decipher Routly's handwriting, which is terrible.

Dick

But then he had a stroke.

Westerhout

He was quite a bit of a help. Then Winkler took it up for him and figured that he could be the PTTI coordinator. So he wanted him, and he got a 14 for him. He moved to Winkler, and two weeks later he had a stroke or something like that. So his work in Time Service never even started, actually. I forget whether he had the stroke after he went to Winkler or just before, but the change had already been made.

Dick

Did you get a new assistant? I don't remember.

Westerhout

No, I didn't get a new assistant. I forget exactly how that worked. Also I don't quite know what time that was anymore, but I'm sure that's another thing that you will be able to find out, right?

Dick

Yes.

Westerhout

So that basically integrated that as a group into the astrometry division.

Dick

Do you think that has worked? That was a good combination?

Westerhout

But it couldn't go anywhere else. It was too small to be viable. I mean, there were four people. There was Harrington, Kallarakal, Worley, and Douglass. That was it. Because Josties had in the meantime also moved to Time Service. Miranian had moved to Time Service before. That was a peculiar thing with Miranian. Miranian tried his darnedest to go on to college at the University of Maryland. He tried to take courses, and he just didn't get anywhere. I don't quite understand why that was. As a result, he stayed a GS-9. A nine, Miranian! And Harrington did not feel that he was up to getting an 11, because he didn't do really anything independent.

Dick

So that's why he went to Time Service?

Westerhout

He went to Time Service, and within a year, he did topnotch programming, he became Winkler's personal assistant, and now, of course, he's a 13.

Dick

He found his niche.

Westerhout

He found his niche. But you wonder again whether that's the capability of a person or whether that is a problem a person has with somebody else. You never quite know how those things fit together, but that's something I'm sure you would be able to find out if you go and talk to him and find out where did all this come from, because he was really held back. I remember having discussions with Harrington several times over that, saying, "Why are you holding this fellow back? Is he doing good work?" "Yeah, but he doesn't really do anything independently." "Well, is that a requirement for an 11?" "Well..." You know how these things go.

Varkey got an 11 already, because he helped Strand so outstandingly. He wrote all Strand's papers, and Strand then thanked Varkey sometimes at the end for lending some assistance, but apparently Varkey wrote the papers, and although Varkey has always admired Strand, I heard there was some problem, some undertone that people didn't think that was real nice, but Varkey, coming from where he came, apparently didn't find it all that bad.

Dick

That's like Hellweg when he was Superintendent. He would have himself as the author of every paper that came out of here.

Westerhout

He did?

Dick

Just about.

Westerhout

Did I ever tell you the story of Captain Smith and Seidelmann?

Dick

No.

Westerhout

I had already figured Smith very soon. He was another submariner, and it was his observatory. Captain Donat was that way, too.

Dick

He was here for three months after I came. I came in '79.

Westerhout

No, Smith came in '76.

Dick

He left in '79. I overlapped him by three months.

Westerhout

Captain Smith always felt it was his observatory, and as Superintendent, this was his observatory. So once he and Ken Seidelmann went downtown to brief somebody, or at least to be around if the guy needed to be briefed, so Seidelmann wrote up this whole thing in great detail, how to brief it and so on. He gave it to the captain. "That's very good." So they drove there, and they never got asked. So in the car back, Smith said to Seidelmann, "Boy, what a pity we didn't get to give that briefing. I wrote such a beautiful briefing for that." And Seidelmann comes into my office, closes the door, he said, "I think he's flipped. He was talking about the briefing he wrote, and he hadn't even seen it before we drove there."

I said, "Ken, that is the way he works." So Ken was satisfied thereafter, but that was apparently the first time Ken got an experience with a Superintendent who said "I" about everything. Of course, Captain Donat was the next one. Hagen a little bit, but Donat was the next one who was very strongly "I am it. I am doing everything." Much more so than Hagen. You would have expected that of Hagen.

Dick

We talked about how EDS and transit circle combined to AD. Another one that happened was the breakup of the Nautical Almanac office into OM and AA.

Westerhout

Yes, that was much later. That was under Captain Hagen.

Dick

What was the driving force behind that?

Westerhout

The driving force behind that is the same as it is now, namely that we felt that that department wasn't pulling its strength. Seidelmann, on the one hand, was an absolutely topnotch researcher, got along with everywhere, was a good ambassador for the observatory, but we felt he couldn't run his department. The computer wasn't really doing what we wanted it to do. Their almanacs were always late, and so on. There were times that the Astronomical Almanac didn't appear until November, and all sorts of angry letters started appearing from all the astronomers around the world who didn't get their almanacs on time. It was really bad. Hagen at one point said, "We've got to fire him." I said, "Wait a second. Wait a second." So we talked a long time, and we organized and reorganized and re-reorganized and so on. Quite a bit of that is still in files over there somewhere. One of my proposals was to make Seidelmann scientist-at-large, because I found him so valuable.

Dick

Sort of like at NASA, where they have a senior scientist.

Westerhout

Yes, that's right. We could basically continue in celestial mechanics, go to all the meetings that he goes to, and look at what he does now in this whole new development in astrodynamics. That's a terrific new step for the observatory. We suddenly stuck our finger, thanks to one man, right into a whole new area. Of course, some of his group now works with him on that. So to some extent, some people may say emasculated the department in that we put the group of workers under astronomical applications, and a group of researchers under orbital mechanics.

Dick

I think that's what Leroy Doggett would say, that the Nautical Almanac office was emasculated.

Westerhout

Yes. And the question is, of course, what were all these people doing that we put in AA? What the people were doing in AA, none of them was really doing science. Leroy much earlier, had produced an absolutely fantastic Ph.D. thesis on polynomials and so on, which showed to me, to my absolute amazement, boy, this guy is a mathematician--topnotch. I mean, he really knows what he's doing. So I remember talking to him a number of times and saying, "Leroy, you shouldn't be sitting here." "Ah, but the almanacs have to be done, too." He wanted to get the Ph.D., but that was it. It was basically the same with all the other people in there.

Dick

More production oriented than anything else.

Westerhout

They were all production-oriented people, and that's why we put Janiczek in charge, because he was the person who often looked into navigation things and so on and so forth. Now that group sort of complained, said they never get a chance of doing any research. They were never doing any research before, either. In fact, some of them were hired by Seidelmann very specifically. I once insisted that this is not a ladder position; this must be a GS-7. You're going to hire a GS-7, because you need people to do the grunge work. You need people who don't really need to be astronomers. We're going to hire a GS-7.

Well, the GS-7--and I forget who it was. I think I remember who it was. But, of course, started doing work and got better and better. Now what to do with him? So a position was created that was a 7-9-11, and he was promoted to the 9 in that 7-9-11 ladder, and he moved up anyway. In other words, my insisting on saying, "You need GS-7s in there" didn't help. All the people who were doing GS-7 work became GS-11s, and now some of them, as GS-12s, want to do scientific work. It just doesn't work that way. In other words, somewhere along the line, something was wrong with the organization, and that has remained that way.

Dick

What do you mean, it doesn't work? Why doesn't it work? Because somebody has to do the production?

Westerhout

And they're complaining that they're doing the production. They're complaining that they have to service other people. AA is very...this is obviously somewhat confidential, as you can imagine, because I'm now talking about the present. AA is forever complaining about all the work. "Why the heck doesn't public affairs do it?"

Dick

Exactly. [Laughter]

Westerhout

"They should answer all our questions." I just saw another thing somewhere from AA again, a note from George Kaplan, that made exactly the same comment. And George, unfortunately, has become a little bit the same. I do not quite understand it.

Dick

But it seems to be a contentious point, whether or not the AA department or the observatory, in general, should answer scientific queries from the public, as opposed to the DoD.

Westerhout

Yes. Why shouldn't the observatory answer queries from the public?

Dick

I'm just saying it's a contentious issue. When it comes to scientific data, if somebody in the public asks a question that requires some calculations, and AA says that they have no obligation to do that. If DoD asks the question, they'll answer it, but not if the public asks the question.

Westerhout

But the observatory has the obligation, and I think the observatory has specifically assigned their tasks to AA. They now want to get rid of the legal letters here--the legal certification. That's 1,000 per year still. He says, "That work's fine, as long as we have these quartermasters, but after those quartermasters go, then..." And he says, "These activities have a considerable spillover into the professional staff side to take care of the many non-standard cases that the QMs can't handle. I have no idea why the public affairs office does not field all routine inquiries to USNO." And, of course, it does. If it can't answer the question, it sends it to the appropriate department, which is what was always the role.

I have the strong feeling that...and he says, "This work accounts for perhaps one to two full-time equivalents not accounted for in our program book," because he doesn't really think that's a program. Hey, to me it is a program. I mean, you must take care of that. We don't even have enough people to do the almanac.

So Captain Blumburg has already begun to look into that. He was immediately stunned by the attitude of both those gents, that we are not servants of the rest of the observatory. This, after Captain Blumburg had started talking about communication, the department must talk to each other much more often.

AA comes up and says, "We're not anybody else's servants." And the LAN, it's really ridiculous that they have to do the LAN. Okay, so who does the LAN? You assign it to the department that originally had the task of all computing in the observatory. That's the department it was assigned to. "Yeah, but that was at the time that we had the mainframe computer. Of course, we ran the mainframe computer, but the LAN, that's everybody else's bailiwick." Well, it isn't. You have to have a centralized organization.

Dick

I want to talk about computers next, but are there any other major organizational changes, or were those the two major ones during your time? Really, would you say that those were major changes or just sort of superficial changes?

Westerhout

They were superficial changes.

Dick

They didn't reflect any change in mission or duties, really.

Westerhout

No. There were other changes like the titles of all the Departments would change from numbers to letters and things like that.

Dick

Why did they become Departments rather than Divisions?

Westerhout

That was also during the Roberts reorganization. Department has much more stature than a division. In other words, put it equal to the Defense Mapping Agency and organizations like that. I would say that was useful. Then the Divisions became what formerly was the branches.

Dick

So some of the new, innovative programs we talked about last time were pretty much just incorporated into the existing divisions. There were no new divisions really formed in a substantial sense.

Westerhout

No. You may make one semi-exception there, and that's TSEO, because TSEO is, of course, a division.

Dick

Time Service Earth Orientation.

Westerhout

Time Service Earth Orientation. Of course, that is part of the Time Service Department, but they are operating an outfit that costs more than $2 million a year, far more expensive than any of the rest of Time Service. That is not controlled by Time Service; that money is controlled by the Scientific Director. I never trust the Time Service with that.

Dick

[Laughter] What is that $2 million spent on?

Westerhout

Green Bank and the whole VLBI effort. You're running all these antennas all around the world. Green Bank is 830K, or was 830K. The VLBI work is about 800K--the other three antennas. The correlator, several hundred K. All added up, you come up to $2 million, without the personnel.

Dick

You're afraid that somebody would buy a bunch of clocks with that money. [Laughter]

Westerhout

Indeed, when I said to Dennis McCarthy at one point way back when, when all these monies started coming in and so on, I said to McCarthy, "Now get me a purchase request for...now you should buy this or that." That was in the program. McCarthy comes back the next day, he says, "I can't." I said, "Why can't you?" He said, "Because I asked Klepczynski and Klepczynski said, 'Oh, you didn't ask in the beginning of the year, so I already spent that money for something else.'" That is when the amounts started going up and made me decide that no way was I going to run that through Time Service. That's a peculiar situation. Everybody has accepted it, and I don't know whether it will continue after I'm gone, or how it will continue, but basically at this point, although I still sign all the procurements, McCarthy is running the show, because McCarthy, of course, at some point was promoted to a 15. So there is a division within a department that is run by a 15, and then there is a deputy director who's a 15. That department is two 15s and an SES in it, whereas things like TSEO are 14s everywhere else. That, of course, is a recognition of the stature that that has as an earth orientation department, although it is not a department, but a division.

So that's not a reorganization, but a peculiarity that came up in that way, the same with the optical interferometer. The money for the optical interferometer has never appeared in the AD budget, and Steve Gauss still has not really gotten that into the AD budget. Next year it will sort of come automatically, but the personnel costs, yes, but for the rest, it was run by using OPN and R&D money. I control both the OPN and the R&D money, so -

Dick

I guess we should say for the record that you have officially announced that you are retiring as of October the second. I don't think we've said that.

Westerhout

I announced that months ago.

Dick

But I wanted to ask, even though you're leaving, would you foresee any organizational changes taking place in the near future?

Westerhout

In my future or in the future of the observatory?

Dick

[Laughter] In the observatory.

Westerhout

Organizational changes in the observatory, no. No. The only change I could see is that possibly TSEO would split off and become a separate department. You have twelve people now. They're sort of beginning to be at the right size to be a department.

Dick

You don't think the same would happen with the optical interferometer?

Westerhout

No, definitely not. There is a total of three people employed to the optical interferometer, and that is very badly needed to be integrated. The optical interferometer became that way separate because it was a Jim Hughes project.

Dick

You mean those were civil servants. The others were all contractors.

Westerhout

Yes, and they're all going to leave. They're all going to leave. We'll have a few observers in Flagstaff who are contractors, mainly employees of the Lowell Observatory, but contracting with the Lowell Observatory to do the main operations. So it's never going to be more than three or four people, so typically it's a branch, as it should be. And hopefully a lot of that gets integrated also in the cataloging branches and things like that. The interferometer is an integral part of AD, always was, but because Hughes ran it entirely on his own, without ever involving anybody else but the guys that were working for him, it was always sort of a thing all by itself. Hughes didn't even know exactly where the money came from.

So as I say, TSEO, I'm not sure whether that is not eventually going to be a department. But then there is the other question, again a piece of real confidential stuff. Of course, at this point you're wondering, with two 15s in Time Service, which one of the two will become the new director of Time Service if Winkler ever decides to retire before the other two are retired. Even a few years ago, there was absolutely no question that Klepczynski would be the head of Time Service, but that's not so sure. I'm not so sure of that at this point anymore, because McCarthy is really, in the international world, earning his laurels all over the place. Klepczynski is also very much up on all the things that have to do with the DoD. Maybe it should become a triumvirate or something, or a bivirate. What's a bivirate? Anyway, so I don't see much changing.

Dick

There have been here and there a few things dropped while you were here. One is the eclipse circulars, for example. That was something, I take it, that DoD no longer considered, or maybe they never considered, essential?

Westerhout

Nothing to do with DoD. Whatever happens at the observatory has to do with the front office in the observatory. We have never been directed by DoD to do or do not something.

Dick

No, I didn't mean that. I meant that the production of eclipse circulars was not essential for DoD.

Westerhout

Correct. The publication of eclipse information is essential for DoD, and it's part of our task.

Dick

Why is that essential for the DoD?

Westerhout

Because DoD has to know where there are eclipses, for starters. You do or you don't want to fight the battle when suddenly the sun disappears, for example.

Dick

But you don't need a big program for that. I mean, everybody knows when eclipses are taking place.

Westerhout

Excuse me. Only because the Naval Observatory calculates that for them. We are the unique organization that calculates that in some detail as to where they all go. No, what happened with the eclipse circulars over the years, they became weather prognostication and detailed topographic maps, and an enormous amount of effort went into providing all the stuff for the guys who were running expeditions.

Dick

This was mainly Alan Fiala's work.

Westerhout

Basically Alan Fiala, but there was more and more work that went into it as time went along. I mean, Marie Lukac had a full-time job with it also, and I think at least one other person. It became, in other words, in my eyes, far too big an undertaking to be valuable. However, it wasn't until Janiczek took over and we were looking at ways to economize, Janiczek almost immediately said, yes, we can drop that. Of course, that then cost, as you well remember last year, a whole letter-writing campaign, or two years ago, initiated by Jay Pasachoff. But I think everybody is by now pretty well satisfied.

Dick

The NASA-Goddard people are picking up on some of it.

Westerhout

They're picking up on some of it, so on and so forth. It went a little bit too fast, but I couldn't get anybody to do it slowly. Once we had made the decision, they then simply said, "Woops! This is the last one," instead of getting the hang, because they did not really have the staff that could communicate with all these other people. They're not scientists. Fiala could have, but Fiala was in another department. Bangert was at that point in charge of eclipses. He was understudy for Fiala for a long time, and was the man who did the eclipse.

Dick

Were there any other little programs?

Westerhout

The other little program that we dumped was the rest of Marie Lukac--namely, the occultations. There was a lot of work done on occultation predictions. We basically handed all that to the Japanese, and that caused angry letters on the part of David Dunham, who felt that we were abandoning him, because he now had to send all those letters to all the amateurs, 1,000 letters per year or something, all the amateurs giving him exactly all the occultations. So to help him with the changeover until other organizations were found, we gave him $2,000, and that shut him up. I said, "Of course we can provide you with funds to do that." "Oh, you can?" This is after he had written an angry letter to the Superintendent. I called him in and said, "What the hell do you mean? You've never even come and talk to me."

Dick

So really over the course of your time here, the last fifteen years or so, the programs have remained remarkably stable. Some new ones have been added, a few little ones have been dropped, but the general thrust has remained the same.

Westerhout

No.

Dick

No?

Westerhout

I wouldn't say that.

Dick

What would you say?

Westerhout

Well, the programs have remained the same in the sense that we're all after determining the motions and the positions of the stars and the planets and the motion of the Earth and the precise atomic time. So those programs have all stayed the same. The question is, what has changed? What's changed is, of course, the thorough computerization of the transit circles, under the very able direction of Steve Gauss. Also the Master Clock business. The fact that when I came, there were perhaps two or three clock vaults with ten, fifteen cesiums in it, now we have cesiums, hydrogen masers, mercury stored iron devices coming out of our ears in twenty different clock vaults all over the grounds. There was one diesel generator. We now have a massive diesel generator plant with two diesels. If one doesn't turn on, the other ones turns on, except that on one occasion that didn't happen. But that's a minor detail. There was water in the fuel tank. At Flagstaff, of course, we changed entirely to electronic means--CCDs and so on. But Flagstaff is another whole story.

So, no, I would say it is by no means the same old programs. We're doing the same thing, but in new and with much advanced technology. Of course we're doing the same thing, because that's our mission, and therefore when you ask for a new program, what do you mean by new programs? The new programs are perhaps the invention of a new instrument, such as now we're discussing the electronic astrograph. We invented the optical interferometer. we invented VLBI. Before VLBI, we invented the connected element interferometer. All new techniques to do the same thing.

We dropped the whole PZT program inside out. We dropped the complete astrolabe program inside out. No, there's a lot more things that we dropped.

Dick

The PZT program was the real end of an era , because that was here for a long time.

Westerhout

Absolutely.

Dick

That was just two years ago. That was actually turned off, though it hadn't been used for UT1 for quite a while.

Westerhout

That's right. In fact, the big PZT wasn't turned off until last December, because that's when it was finished with a complete survey of all the stars in Mizuzawa, Gaithersburg, and Washington zone. In other words, it did a very thorough survey of the positions of those stars with that big instrument that had a much wider field so it could contain all of those zones together.

Dick

Was that instrument ever used for UT1?

Westerhout

No. A little bit, I think, in the beginning. But that work then, there's still years of work to eventually get at those data, and I'm not so sure whether they haven't sent that to Japan to take care of.

Dick

PZTs themselves are dinosaurs.

Westerhout

Yes, they're dinosaurs.

Dick

Are any used anywhere else?

Westerhout

Oh, yes, in some of the small countries. Mrs. Ye, who is one of the top astronomers in China and vice president of the IAU, has been standing up for the small countries. The IAU six years ago still passed a resolution saying that this work had to be kept up for consistency, for overlap, for this, that, and the other. With that resolution, some of these tiny little observatories that had one PZT and nothing else could continue to get funding.

Dick

But basically radio astrometry has superseded both the PZT and the astrolabe.

Westerhout

Yes. The PZTs are now completely useless, and so is the...well, the astrolabe, of course, has a different purpose. I mean, the astrolabe is still a very good instrument to determine positions on Earth, better than any other thing that you hold in your hand, that you can think of.

Dick

We're just getting to the end of this tape. While we're talking about organization, though, we haven't said anything about the status of the out stations. Did their status change during this time?

Westerhout

Officially it hasn't. They were established as third-echelon commands back in the fifties, but they were never treated that way.

Dick

We are second-echelon command.

Westerhout

We are second-echelon command.

Dick

Probably the Navy's smallest second-echelon command.

Westerhout

That's correct.

Dick

Second echelon meaning we come directly below the CNO.

Westerhout

Right.

Dick

So you were saying they were established as third-echelon commands.

Westerhout

Back in the late fifties or so. But that was never properly established until under Captain...even Captain Hagen still tried to get that status away from them. "Let Flagstaff be a regular department. What do we care?" We tried to get Ables to come up more often to take part in the council meetings, but we did at that time specify that he was a member of the Astronomical Council, even though he hardly ever attends meetings.

But then Captain Donat looked at it from the other direction, saying there's always a bit of a threat that we should be degraded to a third-echelon command. That's another part of organization that we should discuss--our relationship with the Commander, Naval Oceanography Command (CNOC). Therefore, if we have two third-echelon commands working for us, it'll be much harder to downgrade us, so Captain Donat, right at the beginning, started making moves to make absolute sure also on the observatory charts, that Flagstaff and Richmond were third-echelon commands reported to him, rather than to anybody else.

Dick

We're at the end of this tape.

End tape 4 Side A

Begin Tape 4 Side B

Dick

So the Richmond station is at this point a third-echelon command.

Westerhout

A third-echelon command. There are some problems, because our friend Tim Carroll, and, before that, Alice, beginning to feel that they don't report to Winkler. Who the hell is Winkler? "I report to the Captain. I do what I want," they would say. That, of course, doesn't work at all, because Winkler controls the budget, although they have a separate budget. Without Time Service, Richmond couldn't exist at all--not at all. Because they used all the algorithms that are developed here and all the new clock developments and everything.

Dick

So they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot.

Westerhout

They're shooting themselves in the foot, because every now and again Tim Carroll makes that statement. Why he does, I still haven't fathomed, but we're discussing that again in rewriting the organization manual for Richmond. We're trying to write that in there. He has no purchasing organization, no nothing. Ables has his own purchasing organization. He has a purchasing agent and all of that.

Dick

And the Black Birch station down in New Zealand is not a third-echelon command. It falls under AD.

Westerhout

That's a detachment of AD. That was because it was a temporary installation only.

Dick

And it will be disappearing.

Westerhout

In '95.

Dick

Would you have preferred Black Birch to keep going, or is it your position that after it had done its nominal ten-year program, that it should come back? Would it not be nice to have a permanent southern hemisphere station?

Westerhout

It would be nice to have a permanent southern hemisphere station, but in somewhat better climate. The reason that New Zealand is where it is, is that they wanted it at about 45 degrees latitude, and there ain't practically no land there in the southern hemisphere. There was a site in Southern Chile, where on satellite photographs this looks like there is very often clear weather, but that site was completely unreachable. And that was it at that sort of latitude. As soon as you go to the regular places in Chile, you are at 20 degrees. In Australia, 30 degrees, 35 degrees at the most in Tasmania, but forget Tasmania. It rains all the time.

So with the requirement for the transit circle, absolute work to have stars below and above the pole, that's why they wanted to have the pole up as high as they could, but not too high, because then you don't get the equator and you can't do the pole-to-pole program. So that's why New Zealand. But as for weather, hey, if we want a southern hemisphere station, we should have one somewhere in one of the nice places in Chile or in South Africa, but I guess you don't particularly want to go to South Africa anymore, so that leaves Chile.

Dick

Do you foresee a southern hemisphere station in the future?

Westerhout

No, but I foresee us being in the southern hemisphere. As far as transit circles are going, the San Fernando people from Spain are going now to Argentina. They're going to use the old Leoncito piers. Put the San Fernando transit circle right where the USNO's was in 1970. They're going to equip the transit circle with CCD and make it fully automatic. At the same time that the guys from Denmark with the Carlsburg transit circle, in La Palma, for the northern hemisphere, are going to equip the telescope with a CCD array. So all of this is going to happen in the next two or three years, so I think as far as transit circle are concerned, the southern hemisphere is probably well taken care of.

The next step is, of course, an interferometer in Australia--we're already making arrangements for that--and the astrograph. The electronic astrograph that we're planning to build will be portable--movable. Excuse me. Not portable. Movable.

Dick

You can't carry it in a suitcase.

Westerhout

I mean, it will be a 75 cm mirror, so it's not all that small, but like the one in New Zealand, we will make sure that we can move it from here to there. There are enough empty domes in Chile, for example, on one of those mountaintops for the Europeans and the Americans and everybody else that's there. I don't think we'll have too much trouble finding a dome.

Dick

But you're mentioning the astrograph reminds me, what about that astrographic program that was hoped for in New Zealand? What's your position on that? The astrograph was sent down for a few years and did miscellaneous things with radio source reference stars, and shipped back without doing its southern hemisphere sky survey.

Westerhout

That's right. Do you want the lowdown on that? The story on that is the following. The astrograph program went to New Zealand, and after a lot of initial troubles, while you were there, it finally started observing, and then Dr. DeVegt from Hamburg looked at the plates and said, "They're no good. Those blue plates, in particular, are lousy. You shouldn't do that survey. You should get yourself a red lens, do it in the red, like I do with the Hamburg astrograph." And since there was nobody in AD who knew anything about astrographs and since they very specifically did not want to consult with Harrington, who somehow or another was forever ruled out of that astrograph--and I do not know why, but DeVegt was against Harrington, among other things--it was decided to buy a red lens.

Well, the purchase of the red lens took four years. After four years, the first purchase order was written. It was designed, we tried it, and it came out far too expensive. We redesigned it and did it again. So after four years, when Douglass was long since back and Hindsley was there, still waiting -

Dick

For the red lens.

Westerhout

For the red lens, and in the meantime doing radio source positions for DeVegt and Planet X positions for Harrington, we started making a budget. So if the red lens now arrives, how much is it going to cost to do the survey? And we at that time expected the red lens to maybe mounted in 1992. In fact, with the red lens we were also going to use these microflat plates--huge, big chunks of glass.

Dick

Expensive.

Westerhout

Very expensive. So expensive, in fact, that my calculations, which nobody had much qualms about, indicated that to finish the program after the red lens had arrived, would cost $2 million. That was at the time that we had to reduce the budget of the optical interferometer considerably, because we were losing money left and right. Several other programs were shrunk completely. There was no way, absolutely no way, that we could suddenly put $2 million over three years. So, say 500, 600 per year, it was simply not available. So what do you do? Do you leave the telescope there or do you take it back?

Dick

How about using cheaper plates?

Westerhout

Or use cheaper plates. Well, neither of those solutions was very agreeable, so we decided then and there to bring the telescope back here and abandon the program. Now, let us assume that the telescope would have been there. The red lens may be delivered at the end of this month. Now, we may have pushed it a little bit harder, and maybe it would have been delivered half a year earlier. Can you imagine the amount of agony there would have been if we had left that telescope there? Now what do you do? Right? Supposing now you go and send John Pohlman up there to put that lens on. But you can't, because John Pohlman doesn't have the time. We would also have to build a completely new back end. We would have to put a lot of sharp effort into that telescope to carry those big heavy plates and so on, and to do better focusing. So this was a decision based on economics. If you had your druthers and you had lots of money, ah, yeah, let's run that program eventually. But -

Dick

So what do you do now with the red lens?

Westerhout

Now, wait a second. Now the question was, do you then abandon it completely? At that time I was already fully committed personally to an electronic astrograph. The idea of an electronic astrograph was already written in the budgets up through the years and so on. I had terrible trouble getting both AD and Flagstaff to really take me seriously, but I wrote it in the budget and I kept pushing, because that was one of the reasons why I wanted Flagstaff to get into bigger CCDs, not to do parallaxes of 18th magnitude stars, but to get the technology that we could really use that to make surveys.

Now, I at that point still believed...this was after Flagstaff took over the 8-inch transit telescope, and I was convinced that scanning was the wave of the future. After two and a half years of experiments, Flagstaff has decided that scanning is definitely not the wave of the future. We gained enough experience with the atmosphere and so on, to decide that the scanning telescope is not it. I was going to build a scanning telescope, a relatively simple telescope that simply moves in one direction, and that we could have, in my opinion, ready by '94 or '95. Therefore, there would be a hiatus of three years between us starting the photographic survey and us starting an electronic survey. And those three years, considering the price, so in the decision came very strongly the fact that we were going to go a different way, and fainter, because that became very clear, even with the first experiments with the 8-inch in Flagstaff, that 17th magnitude was easy with the 8-inch. Good astrometric positions were at 15th magnitude. Therefore, instead of 8-inch, you go to 25- or 30-inch. You go to 18th magnitude without any trouble at all.

So the whole thing by Christian DeVegt was designing a telescope to do the same thing with photographic plates. It was a 1.5-meter mirror, a correction plate, and total cost was expected to be about $12 million--$12 million. He never got the money, but -

Dick

DeVegt was still committed to the photographic method.

Westerhout

DeVegt is slowly but surely, in the last year, beginning to turn around and beginning to realize that somewhere we have to go to CCDs.

Dick

So the southern hemisphere astrograph program then was sort of overtaken by events and technology.

Westerhout

Basically. Had DeVegt not been on the scene, the telescope would have long since been back here, and we would have done a survey in the visual and the blue. The survey would have been finished.

Dick

Of what, the northern hemisphere?

Westerhout

Of the southern hemisphere.

Dick

Oh, I see what you mean.

Westerhout

We had people there for six years.

Dick

Right. He wouldn't have pushed for the red lens.

Westerhout

Right. We simply postponed and postponed and postponed, and then it finally was too late. That's a pity, because although the quality would perhaps not have been as great as he expected it to be, when -

Dick

Surely it would have been better than nothing.

Westerhout

And there are calculations by Harrington which nobody wanted to believe, but he shows the statistics in his measurement of the blue and the red plates. The blue plates were supposed to be lousy--poor images and this, that, and the other. Yet the RMS error on the blue images for the zodiacal program that Harrington measured is better than that of the visual images. Now, how do you explain that? The star images in general look lousy, yeah, but the RMS error in the end is better. That was never explained, never looked into, for the simple reason that the decision had been made not to do it, which I also find foolish. But you can't do everything.

I never thought, to tell you the truth, that putting that astrograph in the southern hemisphere at Black Birch was the right thing to do, but at that time, hey, it was a nice station. Hughes had just taken over the whatever it is--the old EDS group. The telescope was there. The telescope was finished in northern hemisphere. The telescope was built for the southern hemisphere and so on. In the MILCON budget, we stuck that dough in there, and we said, "Let it go. Let it go." I still think we should have put it in Chile or someplace like that.

Dick

So what do you do now with the red lens when it arrives?

Westerhout

Look through it. I'm going to put it on my window sill and look through it. But by then we had already spent the money. If we had stopped it in midstream, we might have gotten 100K back, but by then it was useless. We got the red lens because Winkler graciously gave up a hydrogen maser. We have to thank Winkler, because AD didn't have money to buy a $450,000 red lens.

Dick

We're getting a little afield from organization here, but you said we should talk about our relation to CNOC.

Westerhout

That's a whole different story.

Dick

Why don't we do that.

Westerhout

Our relation to CNOC [Naval Oceanography Command]. The way the observatory works is that it has a major claimant. The major claimant is the organization. There are fourteen major claimants in the Navy that take care of organization, and the major claimant is basically the fiscal and personnel organization that takes care of your books, of your money, that makes sure that everything's right that goes up to Congress, up to NAVCOMPT, to defend your money for you, and so on.

Naval Observatory, being a Washington cat and dog, reported to the major claimant in the Navy Yard who takes care of Washington cats and dogs. That major claimant is called OP-09BF, which means he's Code F of the vice chief of naval operations. In other words, works for the chief of naval operations at a higher level than most other claimants, because most other claimants are second-echelon commands, like CNOC is a second-echelon command. OP-09BF was not a second-echelon command; they weren't a command at all. God knows what they were. They were not in the Navy Yard; they were at Anacostia. They run the [U.S. Naval] Academy and the [Naval] War College and the security station, all sorts of -

Dick

You're saying they were our major claimant when you came?

Westerhout

They were our major claimant when I came. I was told by Strand about Mr. Hass who was extremely fat, a very nice fellow. He was the director. He was the major claimant himself. He was very nice. He always took good care of us, because very often, he says, "I would go to him and say, 'Mr. Hass, don't you have some extra money for us?' And he would listen and say, 'Yes, Dr. Strand. Here's some extra money for you.'" He was always very good to us.

Okay. So that was the major claimant, and they were okay. I mean, there was no particular problem with them. That was completely natural, by the way, because until shortly before I came to the observatory, I don't know exactly when that changed. I think about '77 or '76. The observatory reported directly to OP-09B, the vice chief of naval operations. In fact, the Superintendent was OP-09B6, and that is why the Superintendent's code, when we had a number code, was 6, and the deputy was 6B, Westerhout was 6C, Winkler was 61, and Seidelmann was 64, and so on like that. It was all OP-09B6 ...in other words, we really worked for CNO at that time, 100 percent. In fact, the Superintendent attended the monthly meetings of VCNO. That had already stopped when I got there, because somewhere along the line, it was decided that the oceanographer should be the resource sponsor rather than VCNO.

Dick

You had nothing to say about that?

Westerhout

No, that was long before I got here. Smith knew that, but he ignored it. Smith got completely mad when he found out at one point that no longer did the VCNO write his fitness report; the oceanographer of the Navy was going to write his fitness report.

Dick

One of those restricted line people.

Westerhout

Absolutely. He was absolutely mad. So that was our major claimant. What a major claimant does, as I said, he does your budget. You give him input, and he consolidates the budget into the whole group of cats and dogs that he has, and then brings it up to NAVCOMPT, defends it before NAVCOMPT, and so on. I used to attend occasionally some of these defending meetings for NAVCOMPT, which was kind of interesting.

Mr. Hass died fairly shortly after I got here, and a new fellow took on, whose name now escapes me. He was supposed to not be very nice and friendly, but I never thought he was all that bad either. In any case, then around 1981, I think, the oceanographer moved to the Naval Observatory. I forget exactly when it was, but it must have been about '81. So the oceanography fiscal people, at that point it was the first time I realized that they were our resource sponsor. They were the guys, not OP-09BF. They were the guys who developed the POM, the Program Objectives Memorandum, to which we provided, albeit very little, some input, to which we now provide a very large amount of input.

Dick

What's the difference between the major claimant and the resource sponsor?

Westerhout

The resource sponsor controls the money. The major claimant executes the money. The resource sponsor asks for the money and provides it. The major claimant expends it.

Dick

Gives it to you.

Westerhout

Gives it to you, looks over the daily budgets, and so on. So the resource sponsor is the guy who brings it up to the chief of naval operations, from there to the secretary of the Navy, from there to the...no, that's where it more or less stops. Then it becomes the Navy budget, and that then gets scrutinized by first NAVCOMPT, they come back, they talk to the resource sponsor and very often also to the major claimant. Then it goes to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Their analysts look at it and make some adjustments, and then it finally becomes the president's budget, at which time the Office of Management and Budget looks at it--the president's office. They make some more adjustments, and then it finally becomes the president's budget and goes up to the Hill, which is in February of the next year.

Dick

But at what level is tinkering actually done with your program?

Westerhout

The tinkering happens when it goes up after it has left here, after it has left the oceanographer.

Dick

But how high up?

Westerhout

Not very high. They already start tinkering there, but then DoD continues tinkering.

Dick

They still tinker.

Westerhout

So these guys (the Oceanographer) came here, and they had a fiscal officer, a civilian, and I got to know these people quite well, because I was one of the few people who cheered the idea that our resource sponsor was going to be at the observatory right next to us. That can do us nothing but good. Most other people, because AD was moved and all sorts of things happened, said, "Oh, the encroachment is going to be terrible," and so on and so forth. I was one of the few people who thought it was a good idea, and it was a good idea, because Jim Covello, who was their fiscal officer--at that time he still sat down here. This was before they'd taken over the top floor there where the library still was housed, and when we emptied that out, we found dead birds in among the books. I still remember walking through there. Brenda Corbin was sort of shaken, too. She obviously hadn't been there for years Mummified birds.

Mr. Covello one day came to me and he said, "How much money do you think you have?" So I told him, and he says, "Do you know how much money you really have?" And it was about $600,000 or $700,000 more. He then started looking into that a little bit more, and it turned out that the major claimant would give us...say we had a budget of $6 million. He would give us $5 million and hold the rest behind to use in future cases or for the end of the year or whatever. No wonder Mr. Hass was always so friendly to Dr. Strand! That was Dr. Strand's money that he got back. So at that point they screamed to the VCNO and that practice was abolished there, but they said, "You have no control, because we have no control over that major claimant, whereas the major claimant that we have is completely in our control." At that time there was no admiral there; there was only a captain in CNOC. "We're going to make CNOC your major claimant, and you're much better off."

Well, that was discussed, and we were three-quarters through the transfer, a major effort, when CNOC started writing letters to their third-echelon command, the Naval Observatory. We said, "Wait a minute." So we went to the admiral. We stomped up straight to the admiral, and the admiral immediately noticed what was happening, and said, "Stop everything in midstream."

Dick

The oceanographer.

Westerhout

The oceanographer. "Stop everything in midstream. We'll have a legal opinion." So he had legal opinion written, and legal opinion said Naval Observatory is a second-echelon command for the following reasons--blah, blah, blah. You know. You've seen all those legal documents as to how it reported, works for the secretary of the Navy, but was administered, and eventually it said "administered by the chief of naval operations for the secretary," and that finally dropped out when it was codified. So certainly it couldn't be a third-echelon command, no way. It must report directly to the chief of naval operations.

That being said, and with the problem that a second-echelon command cannot be the major claimant of another second-echelon command, because they have the same rank, so they can't tell you what you do, and that was the neat thing with 09BF, because he was higher than we were. He was directly the chief of naval operations. But these guys were second-echelon commands--CNOC--so they could not control us in the way they were accustomed with all the other commands, because NAVOCEANO, which has 1,000 people working in it, that's a third-echelon command. That's their big claimant, is NAVOCEANO. Then they have about 70 third-, fourth-, and fifth-echelon commands all over the place, little ones, tiny little ones, two-man commands here and there.

So that being the case, the whole thing was canceled and we were two more years under 09BF. When all the dust had settled and there had been lots of discussion with CNOC, and it was found out that in principle, yes, you could do it, as long as they realized that we were a second-echelon command and they administered the Naval Observatory with all the rules and regulations, but they could not tell the Naval Observatory, as long as they shared equally in cuts across the board and so on, but normally a major claimant can decide if he gets a cut. Well, I'm going to cut this one, but not that one. If it's a cut that is directed--namely, thou shalt cut the Naval Observatory, Congress has decided the Naval Observatory is cut, then, of course, they'll take it out of the Naval Observatory.

That came to pass when the OPN budget for FY-'94 was cut, because the FY-'92 obligations of the claimancy by the end of FY-'92 were only 60 percent. The claimants had only obligated 60 percent. They punish you for that. Now, why had the claimancy only obligated 60 percent? In July, the middle of July, the claimants had obligated 85 percent. So how come in September it was 60 percent? Because at the very last month, the last day of July, the Naval Observatory or the claimancy was increased in the OPN budget by $10 million for Green Bank. That immediately reduced the obligation rate. NAVCOMPT looked at September--never mind where the money came from. You haven't obligated your money, so we punish you for that. In '94, you're going to lose $3 million. Although it wasn't our fault, it was sort of reasonable in a sense to charge it to the observatory, so $2 million of it went out of our budget, which was 3, and the rest of it came out of the rest of the major claimant.

So although it wasn't directed, it was sort of clear that we had to bear the burden. And where was that money taken out of? We were not going to get a radio telescope in Florida.

Dick

When was it that CNOC became the major claimant?

Westerhout

When did CNOC become the major claimant? That must have been about 1985.

Dick

It seems like you started out with sort of an adversarial relationship, which is not a very good thing to be with your major claimant, is it?

Westerhout

This is quite right. That adversarial relationship has always remained. Sometimes it went better, sometimes it went worse. It was during Captain Roberts' time that we became part of the major claimant. Let me see. Captain Anawalt came in '86. Right. And we were already under CNOC in '85 when Anawalt was the fiscal officer upstairs [for the Oceanographer]. While Anawalt was still the fiscal officer, some problem started arising with the admiral, who was then an admiral at CNOC, saying to the admiral here, "Look. This doesn't work." So Anawalt had our admiral, write a letter to CNOC laying the groundwork. That letter is still the groundwork letter. Then Anawalt became the Superintendent. So that helped.

But now it was a little bit of an adversarial relationship, but it worked to an extent. Anawalt could work it well. Hagen, so-so. With Donat, it became extremely adversarial, because Donat was capable of convincing the oceanography staff, the resource sponsor, in the POM '94 exercise, that the observatory was doing a topnotch job. The oceanographer went down by about 10 percent to his budget, so as part of the POM exercise, they decided to give everybody the exercise of starting from scratch. "We're cutting you by 40 percent. This is your budget. Tell us what you're going to do with that budget and then tell us what, if you got more money, you would do first." The typical example of zero-based budgeting. Donat did that masterfully. I mean, he and I, of course, worked. This was two years ago in the fall.

We showed that indeed the observatory would continue operating. We had about thirty-five people fired or laid off or whatever, and we had all the basic things still going. But no improvements, no nothing. And then we started building up from there. Every now and then we gave another briefing. This is zero. Here's where we started. So we built up. And that's where we ended up--$2 million more than what we started out with in the first place. So that was a real masterful stroke. But the oceanographer still was $10 million short--10 percent short. So guess where that increase of the Naval Observatory came from? From CNOC. They did not take that lightly, and the oceanographer said, "Look. That's my decision. My staff are looking at all these problems." CNOC did an absolutely lousy job in their attempt to do that. Basically, they did not really do what they were told. They started crying and wringing their hands and wiping their eyes and so on, then making a grand gesture, laying up a whole lot of oceanographic ships which, of course, the oceanographer didn't want them to do. You know, they gave up the golden watch and a whole lot of other stuff. They did not make friends among the staff here. Of course, they also said, "Well, of course you win. You're right next to the oceanographer. You can influence him."

At the same time, interestingly enough, before that I got along very well with their fiscal people. Bernie Cousins was their top civilian in the fiscal world. He would forever help us with this, that, and the other. He was an enormous amount of help. That organization has also grown larger, so there are more people involved, many more people involved. Of course, our resources management department finally came up to snuff, so that I was not nearly as much involved anymore as I was originally. They were babes in the woods. So they did basically what you told him. They got a lot of help from the people in CNOC.

So although the relationship was a little bit adversarial, it wasn't all that adversarial. On the other hand, CNOC last year and previous years had been asking us several times, "Why are you keeping operating Richmond? That's really no necessity." And we always had all sorts of arguments. Well, when Hurricane Andrew struck, they hit us with an enormous amount of force. Had we been a third-echelon command, they would have said, "Richmond is closed--period. Take the people out. Never mind what your argument is." They couldn't, so they had to make the argument, and we made the counter arguments. So we briefed the oceanographer. Finally, the oceanographer said, "We'll have a final brief." He called all the staff in, including three people from CNOC, including the CNOC admiral.

Dick

Admiral Chubb, I guess.

Westerhout

Admiral Chubb. We sat around. That was last December, January, February of '93, that late. We gave all the arguments as to why Richmond was important, and the argument that removing Richmond wouldn't save any money. Why wouldn't it save any money? Because the beauty of Richmond is that it has a staff of people who are trained to take over in case Washington fails. They said, "Yeah, but you have that in Green Bank now that you're going to have a clock in Green Bank. So why the heck do you need that staff there? You have it in Green Bank."

We said, "No, we don't have a staff in Green Bank. In the first place, these are contractors that are going to operate the clock, not being a DoD station that takes over the master clock in case Washington craps out," and so on.

So that was a very important argument, so we would have to move lock, stock, and barrel the group either to Green Bank or, for that matter, to Flagstaff or whatever. We made all the calculations. We came up with the same figure of 50K or 60K if we closed the Richmond station. Of course, the whole argument that we would not have a second VLBI station. This was, of course, when we already had all the money from the senator to build the VLBI station, and we needed two stations on the East Coast.

So with that whole thing being discussed and lots of questions asked, Admiral Chubb continuing not wanting to understand that he wasn't saving any money, the admiral finally went around to Dr. Winokur. "I think we should keep Richmond," so and so and so and so. Admiral Chubb. He says, "Admiral Chubb, I think I'm outvoted, but I still vote no. I don't think we should stay in Richmond."

So then there was some more discussion, and finally the admiral got up and says, "We'll stand up Richmond." At that point, all the effort immediately started to get all the money that was sitting in the wings all that time, but CNOC wasn't moving. CNOC would not move. Within a week, we had $2.5 million for the new antenna and $600,000 to rebuild the buildings. That was all sitting there in the wings, and CNOC would not move on it. They sort of made phone calls, but they never would write letters or anything. Amazing! So how this is going to go now, I don't know.

Dick

So would you say the budget process, this claimancy-type thing, over the years that you've been here, has it gotten more and more complex?

Westerhout

Oh, it's absolutely the case. And the reason for that is, of course, that the bureaucracy gets bigger. There are more and more rules and regulations.

Dick

Your files seem to be thinner in the late seventies for budget than they are now. [Laughter]

Westerhout

Exactly. Enormous amounts of paper. In the old days, I could basically make up the whole thing. Nowadays you need a complete staff of budgeteers to do that. In the old days, you sent in a list of the items that you wanted on the OPN budget, which wasn't all that great, maybe a million and a half dollars so there would be five cesium clocks and a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and a piece of a computer and so on. Now not only do you have to specify those things, you also have to write a paragraph on each of those items. For a $5 million or $6 million project where there are 40 items, that's a lot of paragraphs. That takes many pages.

Then you have to tell them, per each item, how are you going to contract for that? You write that in 1991 for an item you're going to buy in 1994. How are you going to contact? Who's the contractor going to be? And, of course, in most cases we say "not known," "unknown," because it has to be a process in which this is open for bidders. In a few cases where we know that NRL is going to build it for us or this is money that's going to be transferred to NOAA, but in most cases you have no idea.

We, for our small thing, are operating under exactly the same guidelines as the guy who has been negotiating for years with Norfolk Shipbuilding to build him another frigate, and then he knows already that Norfolk...because all these negotiations have been going on for years beforehand. But if I want to buy a $16,000 computer, I have in 1991 to tell them what company I'm going to buy that from in 1994, and it's, of course, completely out of the question.

Then in 1994, when I finally get that money, I got that $16,000, it turns out that the computer I wanted to buy is now three times as cheap, so I buy three of those computers, and I have to defend the reason why I'm buying three instead of one. That's a hard one, because you said in 1991 that you only wanted one. So why the hell do you now want three? Well, because I've got the money. That is not the answer, of course. That's not the answer. That's the wrong answer. You learn that very rapidly, too.

In the budget process that goes all the way up to Congress, you have to defend what you're doing if your budget goes up. Your budget goes up because there's one extra day in the year. Some years have 365, and some have 366 days. There is salary raises--3 percent, which only starts in January, so you have to prorate that. There are a number of other things. Then finally you come to the things you want to do with the extra money you've got, so you put that in. So you put in, "This is a five-year program, whereby we are going to..." and I forget what that was. It had something to do with Time Service. "We're going to upgrade this or that, and five years of doing the following." That was sort of stated in a piece about this long. So we got that money, and I'd forgotten about it.

Five years later, a NAVCOMPT analyst called not us, but the claimant, and wanted to know...there is also a part in that budget that says, "What are you not going to do next year?" Those are the minus numbers. He says, "Where is that in the minus number? We gave you $500,000, or $150,000 every year for five years to do that. It was a five-year program. So now your budget's going to be reduced by $150,000."

End Tape 4 Side B

Begin Tape 5 Side A

Dick

This is tape number two on the nineteenth of July 1993, Steve Dick interviewing Dr. Westerhout in his office. We started by talking about organizational changes, and now we're into budgetary matters.

Westerhout

So this business that we just ended with, apparently these guys have very long memories. You learn those sort of things. So if you don't try to defend your budget on the basis of things that last for a long time and that money is then simply there and you can start using it for others, if you have a one-year budget, you replace it by another one-year project or by a longer project the next year, and so on and so forth. But since I hadn't done that, I lost 150K just like that--boom! Crossed it out.

Then the rules and regulations of the whole ADP business has come up since I came here. Now you have to produce an information technology budget, which is about twenty-five pages, in absolute gory detail how much every computer system costs in purchases, in maintenance, in personnel, in supplies, in this, that, and the other, down to the smallest piece of paper. Unbelievable how much time gets into the controls that the Congress and then all the people down there want to levy on computers, because computers are still nowadays, I think, considered as toys. These guys want another toy, and that's why they want to control it. There's no way they can control it, of course. They still want to control it, so they have this enormous layer of bookkeeping. You know that Dave Nutile in the Astronomical Applications Department is the SIRMO of the Naval Observatory.

Dick

The what?

Westerhout

S-I-R-M-O.

Dick

What's that?

Westerhout

Senior Information Resources Management Officer. I think that's what it stands for. He signs fifty document approvals for ADP things every month for the observatory. If AD wants ten reels of 8 mm tape, $40 or something like that, it has to be signed by Mr. Nutile with a two-page memorandum outlining why it is important, what computer system it fits in, and so on and so forth. It's absolutely sick. The Captain says he discovered that now, he says, "I'm going to do something about that. That just can't be right, that we have to do that." But that is one of the reasons why our resources management department has grown from five people to fifteen. There is so much more. The other reason, of course, is that our budget went up by a factor of three or four, and therefore in purchasing, in bookkeeping, in everything, there is a hell of a lot more work to be done now. But part of it is due to all these layers of bureaucracy, the fact that you have to specify absolutely everything.

Dick

I remember when the Resource Management Dept. was in one room down here when I came.

Westerhout

It was two rooms. It was two. Yes, there were five people, literally. That got across to me most vividly in Flagstaff one day when Betty Riepe, who in Flagstaff is the physical science tech who develops the plates, who grades the plates, who makes the developers, who bakes the plates, all the sort of things with the plates, she slowly but surely started doing the bookkeeping. Flagstaff has a little budget themselves, and they have an impress fund and all that.

Well, Betty Riepe got inspected one day, and they found all sorts of things wrong with her. For example, Fred Vrba needs a resistor for a little thing he's soldering. So he says to Betty, "I'll pick up that resistor for thirty cents on my way at the Radio Shack." "Sure," says Betty. "Here's a purchase request." So, "Naa, naa, naa, naa, naa." Betty is supposed to call Radio Shack after Vrba has written up a purchase request. Betty calls Radio Shack and inquires about the price. That gets documented that she has called Radio Shack at such and such a time, verified the price. Then she types out--she can't hand-write--she types out the official order, and then Vrba, with that order in his hand, is allowed to go and get the transistor or the resistor.

Now Vrba arrives back at Flagstaff with that resistor. He has to go to receiving. Now, Vrba can't be receiving himself, so Jeff Pier is receiving, because Betty Riepe can't be receiving and purchasing at the same time, and receiving has to verify that indeed this item has now arrived at the observatory, which has to be documented.

Betty Riepe is very clever. She made one sheet of paper. On it she documented for every purchase, with a copy of the purchase order, one sheet of paper in which all these things are documented, and that was satisfactory for them. But there had to be a receiving person, a purchasing person, an accounting person, whatever. Unbelievable!

Dick

It's like other things in the government that take a good idea and go overboard.

Westerhout

Yes. And they cannot conceive that that could be different in a place with sixteen people. But absolutely every transaction is documented. That's why you have a big file for every little item that you buy, because that file has to have in it all these various steps. This is not just files of everything bought by Steve Dick. No, there is a file for every purchase that you make. That's why they have such an enormous amount of file space. I don't know how often they can throw that out, but presumably at some point it gets thrown out.

They have to look to make sure you can buy this from a small business. For years I would bring the punch for award ceremonies and stuff like that. I got the purchase request, and I would go to the High's and get the punch and stuff, and that was cheap. No, not to High's, to Safeway. One day I was told, "Where are you buying that?" "Safeway." "Can't do that. Must be done in a small company. This is not small business. Safeway is not small business." So we checked with a few small businesses, and they charge twice as much for punch. So I said to hell with that, so now the cafeteria provides the punch, which is also more expensive, but all right, it costs a little bit more and you get this nice fountain and all that sort of good stuff.

But it's that sort of idiocy that has come up stronger and stronger and stronger and stronger, and that's why there's such an enormous amount of personnel needed for anything fiscal.

I remember when I wanted those brown things, and I wanted those specific ones, they were nice. There was a fellow by the name of Dunn, who was running purchasing.

Dick

Bob Dunn.

Westerhout

Bob Dunn says, "There's a moratorium on these things."

Dick

File cabinets.

Westerhout

File cabinets. "I'll get you some." Two weeks later, they arrived--exactly the ones I wanted. "How did you do that?" "I ordered them in Oklahoma." He knew exactly how to do it. That will be completely impossible, because when I needed an extra one, of course, there was no way I could specify that I wanted. "No," Dr. Westerhout said, "You can't. You must..." No way that you can buy one that's similar to that. All right. So the extra one doesn't look as good.

Dick

Things have gotten more complicated.

Westerhout

Absolutely.

Dick

Frustration levels have risen.

Westerhout

The frustration levels have risen, though once your controller's department is getting to the point where they really begin to understand what they're doing and become competent in it, things can get better. Gail, of course, turned out to be absolutely super. It took her quite a while to get into it, but now she's a GM-13, fully trained, really up on everything. She runs that show upside down.

But it's interesting, with a lot of training, how Marie Jones, who used to be our travel clerk and sat across the hall, and our personnel clerk. Went up from a 6 to a 12 in the course of sixteen years. Not bad. I always remember Marie, because I think she came at about the same time as I did, but she'd been in the government quite a while already. She checked all the pay stubs and things, you know. She comes in walking in to me and she says, "Dr. Westerhout, there's something wrong with your leave. You're only getting four hours of leave. You should be getting eight hours." I said, "No, Marie. After two years in the government, I'll get six hours, but now I'm only getting four." "But not somebody at your level!" says Marie. Look, I'm still an ordinary government employee. This is my first job." Oh, my God. Then another day she comes walking in. "Dr. Westerhout, the amount of tax you pay is almost equal to what I earn." [Laughter] But that was wonderful. When everybody was around here, you could really talk to people. I still can, but it's not as close anymore as it used to be.

End Tape 5 Side A

Citation

Papers of Gart Westerhout, “Interview with Gart Westerhout on 19 July 1993,” NRAO/AUI Archives, accessed May 25, 2024, https://www.nrao.edu/archives/items/show/15324.