Innovation and US Competitiveness (12-4-06)

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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.

Recent Action

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 century."

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 website. (12/4/06)

Previous Action

Senate Introduces National Competitive Investment Act
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 young investigators.

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 (IB) courses.

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 (H.R. 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 session.

To view a press release on the legislation, click here. (10/6/06)

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 Act (H.R. 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 No. 294.

More details about the bills are available at: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/innovation.html
The full text and congressional summaries are available at Thomas: http://thomas.loc.gov/


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 bills (H.R. 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 engineering organizations.

"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 won’t be the case if we don’t 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 President’s American Competitiveness Initiative, these bills will help secure the nation’s future prosperity.”


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 America’s 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 nation’s 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 world’s 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 Act (H.R. 609)
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 at http://edworkforce.house.gov/press/press109/second/03mar/hea033006.htm


Securing Excellence in Education for Our Kids in Math and Science Act of 2006 (S. 2423)
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 here.


Right Time to Reinvest in America's Competitiveness and Knowledge Act (S. 2357)
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 http://help.senate.gov/Min_press/2006_02_22_a.pdf


Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 (H.R. 4845)
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 care system.

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. 2197, S. 2198, S. 2199)

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 "Rising 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 controls.

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. 2196)
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. 4654)
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' National 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. 4434, H.R. 4435, H.R. 4596)
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 action.

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.

Background

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.

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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