Thursday, February 02, 2006

National Academies report on maintaining science & technology competitiveness in the 21st century

The National Academies was asked by Senators Lamar Alexander and Jeff Bingaman to respond to the following questions:
What are the top 10 actions, in priority order, that federal policy-makers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise so that the United States can successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global community of the 21st Century? What strategy, with several concrete steps, could be used to implement each of those actions?
A diverse commission of 20 people was convened to address these questions, and the resulting report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm; Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,has been published by The National Academies, and is available on their Website for reading online, downloading or purchase. From the description:
In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode. A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in these areas. This congressionally requested report by a pre-eminent committee makes four recommendations along with 20 implementation actions that federal policy-makers should take to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts on meeting the nation's needs, especially in the area of clean, affordable energy:

1) Increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education;
2) Sustain and strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research;
3) Develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the U.S. and abroad; and
4) Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world for innovation.

Some actions will involve changing existing laws, while others will require financial support that would come from reallocating existing budgets or increasing them.
This report has already been incorporated into legislation entitled PACE (Protect America's Competitive Edge) and this promises to be wide-ranging in its effects. It remains to be seen whether execution will match inception.

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