Innovation and US Competitiveness (12-4-06)
Maintaining U.S. competitiveness in the global economy through scientific
and technological innovation has become a significant concern in the
109th Congress. Following the release of recommendation reports
by the National Academies and the
Council on Competitiveness, a myriad of legislation has been introduced
in the House and the Senate. This legislation involves many issues
of interest to the geoscience community, including an increased federal
investment in basic scientific research, new grants for early career
researchers, additional funds for undergraduate and graduate scholars
and support for math and science teacher training.
New Report on Innovation and Competitiveness
On November 16, The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation
released a new report on innovation and competitiveness entitled "Measuring
the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness.
Benchmarks of our Innovation Future II". The report echoes the
findings of at least 20 previous reports over the past three years
from a variety of groups and coalitions. In a nutshell, the report
requests greater funding for physical science research and development,
greater incentives for students to pursue studies in the physical
sciences and improvements in science teaching in grades K through
12. The report updates benchmarks, which measure U.S. innovation and
competitiveness relative to other countries.
Benchmarks cited by the report include:
o Defense basic research has remained flat over three decades (after
inflation) despite rapid growth in overall defense research, development,
testing, and evaluation;
o The federal investment in physical sciences and engineering has
declined substantially since 1970 as a share of GDP;
o The U.S. share of published papers in science and engineering -
an effective measure of new ideas and discoveries - shrank significantly
from 1988 to 2003, and has been bypassed by Western Europe;
o The U.S. share of global high-tech exports fell by nearly one-half
from 1980 to 2003;
o U.S. science and engineering degrees as a percentage of all undergraduate
degrees are less than two-thirds the world average, and the U.S. is
in the bottom quartile among 42 countries that granted more than 20,000
university degrees in 2002.
o Asian production of science and engineering Ph.D.s is on a steep
trajectory and has surpassed the number of U.S. Ph.D.s, which has
essentially been flat for a decade.
The report concludes: "Those who stand still will fall behind.
The United States has been standing still in basic research in the
physical sciences for more than a decade -- a decade of immense change
and rapid growth in the global economy. The Benchmarks show that if
the United States continues to stand still, it faces inevitable decline.
Avoiding this outcome does not require huge outlays of federal funds
- the research funds in the American Competitive Initiative, if approved,
involve only about one-tenth of one percent of federal discretionary
spending - but it will require a new attitude and commitment toward
sustained investment in basic research. With this commitment, we believe
that the United States can continue to prosper and lead in this still-new
To view the full report and additional information, click here. (12/4/06)
Report on the State of U.S. Higher Education
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a report on
November 27 stating that the United States, which once boasted to
have the best higher education in the world, is now falling behind
other nations. The report, "Transforming Higher Education: National
Imperative - State Responsibility," declares that more Americans
must graduate from college in order to maintain the required workforce
and calls for state legislators to deliver results. A mere 18 out
of 100 ninth graders in high school who attend college will graduate
from college within six years. As tuitions are increasing, financial
aid and loan programs are not compensating for the increase and many
high school students cannot afford a higher education. Authors from
NCSL's bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission of Higher Education called
for fifteen policy recommendations for legislators, including setting
clear goals and expectations for higher education, making higher education
a priority for legislation, exerting strong leadership, and providing
funding on a reactive, not strategic, basis. A press release and link
to the full report (subscription required) are available on NCSL's
Senate Introduces National Competitive Investment Act
To view a press release on the legislation, click here.
On September 26, 2006, Senate leaders Bill Frist (R-TN) and Harry
Reid (D-NV) introduced the bipartisan National Competitiveness Investment
Act (NCIA) (S.3936)
in response to concern for the nation's decreasing ability to compete
in math, science, and engineering and its effect on U.S. competitiveness
in the global marketplace. The new bill combines the American Innovation
and Competitiveness bill (S.
2802), a Commerce Committee initiative and the Protecting America's
Competitive Edge (PACE) Energy Bill (S.
2197), an Energy Committee initiative with education incentives
to promote science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and critical
foreign language education, from the Housing, Education, Labor and
Pensions (HELP) Committee. Over 35 members have cosponsored the bill,
including the chairs of the Energy, Commerce and HELP committees.
If passed, the NCIA would promote research by authorizing the doubling
of National Science Foundation (NSF) basic research funds over the
next five years as well as increased funding for basic research at
the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department
of Energy's Office of Science and National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). The bill would also provide early career research grants to
The NCIA also targets K-12 education by creating a teacher's institute
aimed at new math and science teaching techniques, increasing recruitment
and training efforts for new math and science teachers, sponsoring
K-12 level math and science teacher scholarships, and encouraging
more students to take advanced placement (AP) and international baccalaureate
The bill also addresses the nation's growing energy needs. If passed,
the NCIA would create a DARPA-modeled energy program, ARPA-E, in order
to fund exploratory, high-risk energy projects.
On the House side, the Early Career Research Act (H.R.5356)
and the Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act
5358) have similar components as the NCIA and would be the likely
pieces of legislation that would be combined with the NCIA if the
Senate and House can move their bills forward during the lame duck
House Science Committee Passes Competitiveness Legislation
On June 7, 2006 the House Science Committee passed three bills
to increase the competitiveness of U.S. research and education. The
Early Career Research Act (H.R.
5356), Research for Competitiveness Act (H.R.
5357), and Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness
5358) were introduced to the House on May 11 to increase the competitiveness
of math and science in the U.S. These bills were included as part
of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) outlined
in the State of the Union this year. The bills would provide grants
from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation
to stimulate innovative and high risk research in the U.S. Because
they are related grant programs, H.R.
5357 was merged into H.R.
5356 and passed by a voice vote; H.R.
5358 focuses on K-12 teaching programs and undergraduate science
and math education programs and was passed independently by voice
vote. The bills are now ready for consideration by the full House.
As of June 22, the bills have been placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar
More details about the bills are available at:
The full text and congressional summaries are available at Thomas:
House Science Committee Members Release New Competitiveness Legislation
On May 11, 2006, the House Science Committee released three new
bills aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness by improving science
and math education and research. The three bills, which reflect testimony
from a series of hearings
held by the Science Committee in recent months, are separated into
an education bill (H.R.
5358) sponsored by Representative Joe Schwarz (R-MI) and two research
5356 and H.R.
5357) sponsored by Representative Michael T. McCaul (R-TX). They
are cosponsored by a number of prominent Science Committee members,
including Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Space and Aeronautics
Subcommittee Chair Ken Calvert (R-CA), Environment, Technology and
Standards Subcommittee Chair Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Energy Subcommittee
Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL.), Research Subcommittee Chair Bob Inglis
(R-SC) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX). Additionally, they have
been endorsed by a number of industry, educational, scientific and
"These bills address important needs of our nation by expanding
innovative research opportunities and supporting content-driven teacher
development and undergraduate and graduate education in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics," said Ehlers in a Science Committee
press release accompanying the introduction of the bills. Boehlert
also offered praise for the legislation. "As a nation, we must
do everything possible to remain competitive, and that starts with
ensuring that we have the best scientists and engineers in the world,"
he said. "That wont be the case if we dont invest
more and more wisely in attracting the best teachers, in teacher training,
in improving undergraduate education, and in funding bright, young
researchers with the most creative ideas... Along with the spending
increases called for in the Presidents American Competitiveness
Initiative, these bills will help secure the nations future
Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act (H.R.
5358). The Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness
Act focuses on K-12 teaching programs and undergraduate science and
math education programs. Rather than create new programs, the act
would improve and expand a number of successful programs administered
by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Specific provisions in the
bill would expand the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which
provides scholarships to students who major in science, technology,
mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields and commit to teaching
after graduation; authorize through fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding
for training elementary and high school math and science teachers
through the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program; authorize
funding through FY 2011 for the Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP), which provides grants
to universities to increase the number of students in STEM fields;
and require 1.5 percent of NSF's Research and Related Activities funding
to be used for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship
(IGERT) Program. It would also provide grants to establish Centers
for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering
to improve the quality of undergraduate courses and increase the number
of students taking courses in these fields. Three provisions in H.R.
5358 are geared towards gaining a better understanding of the success
of current education programs administered by NSF and the Department
of Energy (DOE). The bill calls for an assessment of the impact of
the Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree, a report on the effectiveness
of NSF's broader impacts criterion, and an inventory of existing education
programs at DOE.
"Our nation is facing a true crisis of competitiveness,"
said Schwarz, the bill's sponsor, in a press release. "Part of
the solution to this problem is improving our education system. We
need highly qualified individuals teaching our students at all levels,
especially in the fields of math, science, and engineering. This legislation
will provide the financial incentive to create this necessary teacher
workforce, and get our nation back on track to being the technological
leader in the global economy."
Early Career Research Act (H.R.
5356) and Research for Competitiveness Act (H.R.
5357). The Early Career Research Act would establish grant
programs at NSF and DOE for young faculty members. The grants would
provide at least $80,000 per year for up to five years "to help
researchers establish a lab and pursue risky research in emerging
fields." NSF would be required to allocate at least 3.5 percent
of the Research and Related Activities funds to this program.
The Research for Competitiveness Act also creates a grant program
at NSF and DOE for young researchers conducting high-risk, high-return
research. The grants in this act would provide $50,000 per year for
up to five years. Awardees could receive an additional $50,000 per
year by raising one-to-one matching funds from private industry. This
legislation is similar to a program administered by NSF in the 1980s.
"Nothing less than Americas strong-hold in the global
IT (information technology) marketplace is at stake," said McCaul,
the sponsor of the two bills. "These two bills put the support
and resources in place to give our nations brightest minds the
opportunities to bring their innovations to industry and build and
develop their skills to help America maintain its high-tech workforce
and its foothold as the worlds top technology leader.
A press release on the legislation is available from the Science
Committee at http://www.house.gov/science/press/109/109-259.htm.
American Competitiveness Amendment to the College Access and Opportunity
In a 293 - 134 vote, the full House approved the American Competitiveness
Amendment to the College Access and Opportunity Act (H.R. 609) on
March 29. Introduced by Representative Cathy McMorris (R-WA), the
amendment seeks to increase the number of teachers qualified to teach
Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the number of qualified math and
science professionals serving as adjunct teachers in secondary schools.
Rather than create new programs, the amendment uses funds from two
existing provisions in the act. Specifically, the amendment provides
"additional uses of state grant and partnership grant funds under
Title II (Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants) to authorize advanced
placement activities designed to increase the number of teachers qualified
to teach advanced placement and pre-advanced placement courses in
mathematics, science, and critical foreign languages, particularly
for low-income students." It also authorizes the use of funds
from the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program "to award
grants to recruit and place well-qualified individuals to serve as
adjunct teachers in secondary school mathematics, science, and critical
foreign language courses."
The full College Access and Opportunity Act was passed by the House
on March 30 in a 221-199 vote.
A press release on the College Access and Opportunity Act is available
Securing Excellence in Education for Our Kids in Math and Science
Act of 2006 (S.
On March 15, 2006, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced S. 2423,
the Securing Excellence in Education for our Kids (SEEK) in Math and
Science Act of 2006. The SEEK legislation focuses on K-12 and undergraduate
education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
fields. The act authorizes the development of teacher recruitment,
training, and retention programs, including a part-time master's degree
program for STEM middle- and high-school teachers; a scholarship program
for undergraduates in STEM fields who receive concurrent teaching
certification and complete a five-year teaching requirement; bonuses
of up to $10,000 for highly-qualified STEM teachers who teach in a
high-need school for at least 5 years; and loan interest payments
of up to $10,000 for STEM teachers and professionals. The SEEK Act
would also increase the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement
(AP) courses by facilitating distance learning for students in rural
school districts. An additional provision of the legislation provides
grants for schools that pilot a differentiated compensation for K-12
math and science teachers. The compensation system would be "based
primarily on measures of improvement in student academic achievement."
For a press release on the legislation click
Right Time to Reinvest in America's Competitiveness and Knowledge
On March 2, 2006, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 2357,
the Right Time to Reinvest in America's Competitiveness and Knowledge
Act (Right TRACK Act). Of primary interest to scientists in the Right
TRACK legislation are increases in research funding of 10 percent
per year through fiscal year (FY) 2013 for the Department of Energy
(DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Science Foundation
(NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and
the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The act also makes permanent
the research and development tax credit.
The legislation promotes increased use of renewable energy sources
by extending the tax credit for solar energy and creating tax credits
for other forms of "green electricity," including wind,
geothermal, biomass, biogas, and hydropower sources. It would also
require electricity utilities to obtain 20 percent of their electricity
from renewable sources by 2020.
A number of education provisions fall under Title II of the bill,
known as the New National Defense Education Act (New NDEA). In particular,
the New NDEA would require all states to perform science assessments
in the 4th and 8th grades; provide resources for states to align their
standards with national standards; double funding for education programs
at NSF; and establish Preparedness Councils to align high school curricula
with the skills needed to succeed in higher education, the workforce,
or the armed forces. The New NDEA is also aimed at increasing the
number of highly-qualified teachers. It would provide tuition grants
of up to $5,500 per year for low- and middle-income students in science,
technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields; provide $7,000 per
year in academic scholarships for students in STEM fields who agree
to teach in public schools for four years; increase loan forgiveness
from $17,500 to $23,000 for STEM teachers in high-poverty schools;
and provide $15,000 in tax exemption for STEM teachers at high-need
schools. It would also raise funding for NSF's Math and Science Partnership
(MSP) program to $400 million in FY 2007 (funded at $63 million in
FY 2006), followed by annual increase of 10 percent through FY 2011.
The remaining provisions of the act focus on creating a national
broadband internet policy, ensuring high-quality jobs remain in the
U.S., protecting American businesses in the global market, raising
the federal minimum wage, reforming unemployment insurance and compensation,
and improving access to healthcare.
A press release with a summary of the legislation is available at
Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 (H.R.
On March 1, 2006, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the
Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 (H.R.4845). "The Innovation
and Competitiveness Act is a consensus piece of legislation to get
Congress engaged in the business of promoting innovation in America
by creating additional incentives for private individuals and businesses
to create and rollout new products and services so that America will
remain the world leader in innovation," Goodlatte said in his
introduction of the bill. The bill focuses on education, taxation,
liability reform, and health care reform. Unlike the President's American
Competitive Initiative, the PACE bills, and other competitiveness
legislation, H.R. 4845 does not include any provisions to increase
research funding for federal agencies.
The provisions of the legislation that are of most interest to the
geoscience community fall within Title II (Increase America's Talent
Pool) and Title III (Promotion of Research and Development). Title
II of the act includes the creation of an Innovation Mathematics and
Science Honors Scholarship Program in the Department of Education
(DoEd). The scholarships would be awarded to undergraduate students
in science, mathematics, and engineering; would be renewable for the
duration of the undergraduate program; and would carry a service requirement
of five years in a science, math, or engineering position. The act
also authorizes a Mathematics and Science Incentive Program to pay
the interest on loans for students who become science, math, or engineering
professionals or teachers and who complete a five year service requirement.
Title III of the act makes the research tax credit permanent. The
remaining provisions of the act are focused on reducing the number
of frivolous lawsuits against small businesses and improving the health
The text of the bill, a summary, and a link to the press release
are available at http://www.house.gov/goodlatte/innovation109.htm
American Competitiveness Initiative
In his annual State of the Union address on January 31, 2006, President
Bush announced the "American
Competitiveness Initiative." Although the specifics of the
initiative differs from the various bills that have been introduced
in Congress, it covers a number of the same issues, focusing on boosting
US competitiveness by increasing federal science funding, improving
K-12 science and math education, and encouraging private sector innovation.
President Bush's plan would double the federal agency basic research
budgets over 10 years, rather than the seven years specified in the
congressional bills. It also commits an additional $380 million of federal
funding to K-12 education, makes the R&D tax credit permanent, and
reforms visa and immigration policies. The President's plan would cost
$5.9 billion in fiscal year 2007 and $130 billion over 10 years.
Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Acts (S.
On January 25, 2006, Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Jeff Bingaman
(D-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced
a package of three bills (S. 2197, S. 2198, and S. 2199), collectively
titled Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE). The bills, which
are separated into energy, education, and finance components, implement
the 20 recommendations detailed in the National Academies' report
Above the Gathering Storm." Each bill currently has between
61 and 66 cosponsors. The Senate Committees on Energy and Natural
Resources; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Commerce, Science,
and Transportation have begun holding hearings
on the bills.
PACE-Energy Act (S.
2197). The PACE-Energy Act encompasses a number of K-12 education
provisions. The act establishes a "Director of Mathematics, Science,
and Engineering Education Programs" within the Department of
Energy to oversee several educational programs to be carried out in
conjunction with the National Laboratories. Specifically, each lab
would establish summer internships for middle and high school students,
provide teaching assistance at statewide math and science specialty
high schools, and work with one public secondary school in the region
of the lab to develop a Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science.
Each lab would also establish summer institutes for K-12 teachers,
focusing specifically on K-8 math and science skills.
In addition to education initiatives, S. 2197 establishes a Distinguished
Scientist program to recognize 100 scientists at the National Laboratories.
It also establishes early-career research grants for scientists who
have completed their degrees within 10 year of enactment of the act.
The grants are authorized through fiscal year 2011 and would provide
65 scientists each year with $100,000 per year for five years. Finally,
the act establishes the Advanced Research Projects Authority - Energy
(ARPA-E), modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects
Authority (DARPA), to provide funding for ground-breaking basic and
applied energy research.
PACE-Energy was passed by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources on March 8, 2006, and is now ready for consideration by
the full Senate.
PACE-Education Act (S.
2198). The PACE-Education Act contains the bulk of the education
initiatives, as well as a number of initiatives not directly related
to education. Provisions related to K-12 education include the establishment
of National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarships of up to $20,000
per year for four years for students who major in math, science, or
engineering with concurrent teacher certification. The scholarships
would carry a service commitment of five years of teaching in a public
school. NSF would provide a further $10,000 per year for 4 years to
teachers who complete the program and teach in a high-need school.
The act also establishes grants to universities to develop appropriate
degree programs that integrate math, science, or engineering content
with teacher certification.
Additionally, S. 2198 provides grants for institutions to develop
part-time 3-year master's degree programs in math and science for
teachers and provides NSF fellowships of $10,000 per year for five
years for teachers who complete the programs and serve as mentors
in their schools. It also provides funds to expand Advanced Placement
or International Baccalaureate (AP-IB) programs and pre-AP-IB programs
and authorizes financial incentives for students who pass AP-IB exams,
as well as for their teachers. The final K-12 provision of the act
is to convene a national panel to collect proven K-12 math and science
teaching materials, and to make these materials publicly available.
Undergraduate and graduate education provisions are also covered
in this section. The act creates 25,000 new merit-based Future American-Scientist
Scholarships of up to $20,000 per year for four years available to
students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in math, science or engineering.
It further authorizes additional funds for graduate research fellowships
in areas of national need.
A number of provisions in S. 2198 relate to research funding. Similar
to the early-career research grants established in S. 2197, S. 2198
authorizes NSF, NASA, and Department of Defense (DOD) early-career
grants through 2011. It also increases the DOD, NSF, NASA, and basic
research budgets by 10% annually through 2013. The act further devotes
8% of federal R&D budgets to high-risk, high-payoff research and
authorizes a President's Innovation Award for innovation in an area
of national need.
Visa reform is also covered in S. 2198. It creates a new "F-4"
student visa for doctoral candidates in math, engineering, technology,
or physical science. The visa would allow students to remain in the
US for as long as 1 year after the completion of their degree in order
to seek employment. Upon gaining employment and passing security checks,
the individuals would be granted legal permanent resident status.
Additionally, S. 2198 exempts foreign scientists from the numerical
limitations on employment-based immigrants.
Finally, S. 2198 creates committees to coordinate the federal budgets
for science education programs and research instrumentation facilities,
creates grants for the development of science parks, and provides
Sense of the Senate resolutions on broadband internet access, visa
processing for students and engineers, patent reform, and deemed export
PACE-Finance Act (S.
2199). The PACE-Finance Act doubles the current R&D tax
credit from 20% to 40% and makes the tax credit permanent. It also
expands the credit to cover 100% of the cost of all research, rather
than just energy research, and requires the Treasury Department to
analyze further expansion of the credit. S. 2199 creates a tax credit
of up to $500,000 per year for employers who provide continuing education
opportunities for employees. Finally, it requires the Treasury Department
to conduct a study of the effect of the US tax system on the attractiveness
of the US as a site for innovation investment.
Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E) Act (S.
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced the Advanced Research Projects
Energy (ARPA-E) Act (S.2196) on January 25, 2006, the same day as
the introduction of the PACE Acts. The act, which is cosponsored by
Senators Bingaman, Reid, and Cantwell, calls for the establishment
of an Assistant Secretary for Advanced Energy Research, Technology
Development, and Deployment within the Department of Energy. The Secretary
would support cutting-edge, high-payoff energy research by awarding
individual prizes of up to $10 million. The bill would cost $1 billion
in fiscal year (FY) 2007, and $2 billion per year for FY2008-FY2011.
It has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
National Innovation Acts of 2005 (S.
2109) and 2006 (H.R.
On December 15, 2005 Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and John Ensign
(R-NV) introduced the National Innovation Act of 2005 (S. 2109), which
aims to improve and maintain American leadership in science and technology.
Based on the recommendations contained in the Council on Competitiveness'
Innovation Initiative, the bill focuses on three areas: research
investment, science and technology talent, and innovation infrastructure.
Specific proposals include doubling the National Science Foundation
(NSF) research budget by fiscal year 2011, increasing funding for
NSF graduate research fellowships and for Professional Science Master's
Degree Programs, developing competitive traineeship programs through
the Department of Defense, and creating Innovation Acceleration Grants
that will encourage federal agencies to devote at least 3% of their
budget to high-risk frontier research. The bill also establishes the
President's Council on Innovation, which would assess and produce
annual reports on the performance of federal innovation programs.
The bill currently has 23 cosponsors and has been introduced to the
Senate Committee on Finance.
On January 3, 2006, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced
the National Innovation Act of 2006 (H.R. 4654), a House version of
the Senate National Innovation Act of 2005, S. 2109. The bill, which
has the same text as the Senate version, has been introduced to the
House Science Committee and currently has no cosponsors.
House Innovation Bills (H.R.
On December 6, 2005, Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced
two innovation bills (H.R. 4434 and H.R. 4435) to the House. These
were followed on December 16 by a third bill (H.R. 4596), also introduced
by Representative Gordon. The House innovation bills implement a number
of the recommendations from the National Academies' report, "Rising
Above the Gathering Storm". The bills have been referred to the
appropriate House committees and subcommittees and are awaiting further
The first bill, H.R. 4434 focuses on education initiatives. It includes
the establishment of undergraduate scholarships for students who combine
math or science degrees with teaching certification, the creation
of summer institutes for teachers at NSF and the Department of Energy
(DOE), the development of part-time master's degree programs for science
and math teachers, and the establishment of NSF programs to train
AP-IB math and science teachers. The second bill, H.R. 4435 establishes
an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) with the specific
goal of reducing US foreign energy dependence by 20% over the next
10 years. The final bill, H.R. 4596, focuses on increasing the US
investment in basic research. Specific provisions of the bill include
increasing the basic research budgets at NSF, NASA, DOE, DOD, and
the National Institute of Standards and Technology, by 10% per year
through fiscal year 2011, providing early-career research awards,
creating a new graduate fellowship program in areas of national need,
and establishing a Presidential Innovation Award.
In October 2003, the Council on
Competitiveness formed the National Innovation Initiative (NII)
with the goal of creating "a comprehensive strategy to optimize
our entire society for a future in which economic growth, productivity,
and personal prosperity - the pillars of competitiveness - are increasingly
linked to our capability to innovate." Over 400 leaders in academia,
industry, and government were involved in the analysis, which focused
on innovation skills, finance, infrastructure, the public sector,
research frontiers, trade and investment policy, and innovation in
the 21st century. The final priorities of the NII were presented at
the National Innovation Summit on December 15, 2004. The recommendations
fall into three broad focus areas: talent, investment, and infrastructure.
A summary of the NII report by AGI's Government Affairs program is
available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/niiinnovationreport.html.
In early 2005, the National Academies' Committee on Science, Engineering,
and Public Policy (COSEPUP)
received a bipartisan congressional request to conduct another formal
study of the state of US competitiveness and innovation. To complete
the task, COSEPUP created the Committee on Prospering in the Global
Economy of the 21st Century. The 20-member committee which included
Nobel laureates, university presidents, and CEOs, were charged with
answering the following questions:
1. "What are the top 10 actions, in priority order, that federal
policymakers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise
so the United States can successfully compete, prosper, and be secure
in the global community of the twenty-first century?"
2. "What implementation strategy, with several concrete steps,
could be used to implement each of those actions?"
The committee's report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm,"
was released in October, 2005 after several meetings and focus group
sessions. It contains 20 specific recommendations in four general
areas: K-12 education, research, higher education, and economic policy.
A summary of the NAS report by AGI's Government Affairs program is
available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/nasinnovationreport.html.
Both reports spurred a significant amount of interest in innovation.
On November 15, 2005, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave
a speech at the National Press Club announcing the Democratic Party's
National Innovation Agenda. The speech outlined several specific policy
proposals that were later included in the bills introduced by Representative
Gordon. "Only innovation and technology can lead America to energy
independence," Pelosi said. "We should be spending energy
dollars in the Midwest, not the Middle East." A detailed summary
of the Democrats National Innovation Agenda is available at http://www.housedemocrats.gov/news/librarydetail.cfm?library_content_id=557.
On December 5, 2005, the National
Coalition for Technology in Education and Training held a forum
on "Reengineering Excellence in Math and Science Instruction:
Learning Technology as a Critical Element". The goal of the forum
was to examine how technology could be used to address growing concerns
that K-12 math and science education in the United States is not adequately
preparing students for a competitive global economy.
The following day, the National
Summit on Competitiveness was held at the Department of Commerce.
The summit brought together business leaders, academics, government
officials, and legislators to discuss actions that could be taken
to strengthen the United State's potential for innovation. Despite
some minor disagreements between participants, there appeared to be
a consensus on a set of key policy recommendations, all of which are
contained in the NAS and NII reports. These include boosting funding
for long term basic research; providing focused funding for research
in key technologies; using financial incentives to increase the number
of students who choose to major in math, science, and engineering;
reforming immigration policies; and creating public-private partnerships
to improve K-12 math and science education.
Sources: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, CNET News, House Committee
on Science, House Committee on Science Democratic Caucus, Alliance
for Science and Technology Research in America, National Academy of
Sciences, Council on Competitiveness, Senate and House Press Releases.
Contributed by Peter Douglas, 2005 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern, Jenny Fisher,
2006 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern, Rachel Bleshman, 2006 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on December 4, 2006