Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America
for a Brighter Economic Future
A report by the National Academies
Recommendation A (K-12 Education)
Recommendation B (Research)
Recommendation C (Higher Education)
Recommendation D (Economic Policy)
In late 2005, the National Academies' Committee on Science, Engineering,
and Public Policy (COSEPUP) released Rising Above the Gathering Storm,
a report concerning US competitiveness in scientific and technological
innovation. The report was created in response to growing concern
among leaders in industry, government, and scientific and technical
fields that the US is becoming less competitive in science and technology.
These leaders fear that decreased competitiveness will adversely affect
social and economic conditions for US citizens.
Following a bipartisan congressional request, COSEPUP created the
Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century
to undertake a formal study of the issue. The committee consisted
of 20 members, including Nobel laureates, university presidents, and
CEOs of major corporations. They were charged with answering the following
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 was released after several meetings and focus
group sessions. It details the critical role of science and technology
in America's past and current economic prosperity. It then introduces
four general recommendations and 20 specific actions the committee
believes should be taken to implement the recommendations.
The report begins by analyzing the critical role science and technology
plays in ensuring America's prosperity. Throughout the 20th century,
science and engineering achievements significantly improved the American
quality of life in a diverse range of fields, from electronics, telephones,
and computers to safer water, more efficient agriculture, and improved
health technology. Innovation in science and technology will continue
to be central to America's success throughout the 21st century. Innovation
contributes to economic well-being by improving technology (e.g. computers
and information technology), making current industries more efficient,
and creating new jobs. Scientific advances can also create entire
new industries, such as the biotechnology industry that arose from
fundamental research in molecular biology. Medical research and innovative
medical technology promotes public health, decreasing mortality rates
for diseases like cancer and heart disease. Improvements in medical
technology also bring economic benefit by decreasing health care costs.
Scientific research enhances public safety and environmental quality
by improving air and water quality, identifying toxins, and mitigating
natural hazards. Finally technological achievements have been key
in protecting the security of the United States.
Despite the importance of scientific achievement to American prosperity,
there has been growing concern that the US is losing its position
as the worldwide leader in research and innovation. There are a number
of reasons for this concern.
- Investment in research and development: Over the past decade,
many Asian and European countries have dramatically increased public
investment in research and development (R&D). European Union
countries are increasing the percentage of gross domestic product
(GDP) spent on R&D. In Japan and Korea, this percentage is already
higher than in the US. In China, R&D spending rose 500% from
1991 to 2002, while in the US the increase was only 140%.
- Technology exports: US exports of high-technology products
have dropped over the past 20 years, while Asian technology exports
have grown dramatically, particularly in emerging countries like
India. The US now has a negative trade balance in high-technology
- Publications: The US share of publications is also dropping.
Total science and engineering publishing has remained constant in
the US since 1992 but has increased steadily in Europe and Asia.
- Doctorate production: The number of doctorate degrees conferred
is falling in the US but increasing rapidly in Asia.
- Foreign talent: Due to new visa and immigration policies
in effect since September 11, 2001, the number of foreign students
and researchers in the US is declining. Foreign visitors make up
a large proportion of the graduate students and postdoctoral scholars
in the US and contribute greatly to innovation.
- Industry emphasis: Many researchers are employed in the
industrial sector, where R&D funding focuses on short-term and
incremental projects rather than higher risk long-term or discovery-oriented
- Public funding: Throughout the 1990s, only biomedical research
saw significant federal funding increases. Funding for the physical
sciences, plant sciences, and environmental sciences remained flat,
and funding for math and engineering increased only slightly more
- K-12 education: Many primary and secondary school students
lack the fundamental math skills necessary to contribute to society
and the economy. In 2003, only 29% of 4th and 8th graders were "proficient"
in math. A third of 4th and a fifth of 8th graders performed below
the "basic" level. US 15 year olds are ranked lower than
their peers in nearly every country for their ability to solve practical
problems involving some level of mathematical understanding.
- Undergraduate education: Undergraduate science and engineering
programs in the US have the largest attrition rate of all subjects.
Less than half the students who enter these programs complete a
degree in science or engineering.
The following recommendations are listed in order of priority.
"Increase America's talent
pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education."
Action A-1: "Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics
teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10
Action A-1 responds to a lack of highly qualified K-12 mathematics
and science teachers. The committee recommends instituting a "competitive
federal scholarship program would allow bright, motivated students
to earn bachelors' degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics
with concurrent certification as K-12 mathematics and science teachers."
The scholarship would be based purely on academic merit and would
provide $20,000 per year for 4 years for tuition and other educational
expenses. Students could enter the program at any point and would
be required to commit to 5 years of teaching in K-12 public schools.
The annual cost of the scholarship program would be between $400 million
and $800 million.
The committee also recommends awarding "competitive matching
grants of $1 million per year for 5 years to help 100 universities
and colleges establish integrated 4-year undergraduate programs that
lead to bachelors' degrees in science, technology, engineering, or
mathematics (STEM) with teacher certification."
Action A-1 is based in part on the successful UTeach program at the
University of Texas, Austin and on the University of California's
new California Teach program.
Action A-2: "Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through
training and education programs at summer institutes, in Master's
programs, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP
and IB) training programs and thus inspires students every day."
Action A-2 provides several ways to improve the knowledge and skills
of 250,000 current teachers.
The committee recommends holding 1- to 2-week summer institutes for
up to 50,000 practicing teachers each year. The institutes would focus
on science and mathematics content, recent scientific and technological
developments, and teaching practices. The recommendation is modeled
on the successful Merck Institute for Science Education. The expected
cost per participant is $1200 per week.
The committee also recommends providing funding for 50,000 teachers
in 5 years to participate in part time two-year master's degree programs.
They also recommend providing 500 institutional grants to develop
the programs. The programs would focus on content education and pedagogy,
and would include a component of in-classroom training. Graduates
of the program would receive stipends of $10,000 per year for as long
as they remain in the classroom. The recommendation is based on the
University of Pennsylvania's Science Teacher Institute, and would
cost approximately $500 million per year.
A further recommendation is to train an additional 70,000 AP or IB
and 80,000 pre- AP or pre-IB teachers in math and science. This would
provide 30,000 newly qualified teachers each year for 5 years. Teachers
from schools with few or no AP-IB courses would have priority for
the training. The new AP-IB teachers would receive incentives to attend
professional development seminars and tutor students outside of class,
as well as a $100 bonus for each student who passes an AP or IB exam.
The recommendation is based on the Dallas AP Incentive Program and
has an estimated 5-year cost of $1.3 billion.
The final recommendation of action A-2 is for the Department of Education
to convene a national panel to collect and develop effective K-12
math and science teaching materials. The materials would be available
free online and would serve as a voluntary national curriculum. The
estimated cost is $100 million over 5 years.
Action A-3: "Enlarge the pipeline by increasing the number
of students who take AP and IB science and mathematics courses."
Action A-3 provides increased opportunities and incentives for middle-school
and high-school students to participate in rigorous math and science
coursework. Currently, only 6.5% of juniors and seniors take at least
one AP or IB mathematics or science exam, and only 230,000 students
pass those exams. The recommendations of action A-3 are based on reaching
two goals by 2010: increasing the number of students who take at least
one of the exams to 1.5 million (23% of juniors and seniors) and increasing
the number of students who pass those exams to 700,000.
The committee recommends providing students with financial incentives
for passing AP or IB math or science exams, including a 50% exam fee
rebate and a $100 min-scholarship for each passing score. The 5-year
cost for 700,000 students would be approximately $428 million.
The committee also recommends increasing the number of statewide
specialty high schools and the number of inquiry-based learning opportunities,
including summer internships and research programs.
"Sustain and strengthen the nation's
traditional commitment to the long-term basic research that
has the potential to be transformational to maintain the flow
of new ideas that fuel the economy, provide security, and enhance
the quality of life."
Action B-1: "Increase the federal investment in long-term
basic research by 10% a year over the next 7 years."
Ideally, funds for action B-1 would be provided through reallocation
for existing funds, but if necessary, the committee recommends the
investment of new funds. The basic research investment "should
place special emphasis on physical sciences research in the physical
sciences, engineering, mathematics, and information sciences and basic
research conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD)" in order
to re-establish a more balanced research portfolio
Action B-2: "Provide 200 new research grants each year at
$500,000 each, payable over 5 years, to support the work of outstanding
The grants would be funded by existing federal agencies, including
the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation
(NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), DOD, and the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA). The recommendation is modeled on
the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Action B-3: "Institute a National Coordination Office for
Research Infrastructure to manage a centralized research-infrastructure
fund of $500 million per year over the next 5 years."
Ideally, funding would be provided through reallocation of existing
funds but if necessary through new investments. Funding would allow
for "construction and maintenance of research facilities including
the instrumentation, supplies, and other physical resources researchers
need. Universities and the government's national laboratories would
compete annually for the funds."
Action B-4: "Allocate at least 8% of the budgets of federal
research agencies to discretionary funding."
This discretionary funding would be controlled by technical program
managers and would be targeted towards high-risk, high-payoff research.
The recommendation does not require any additional funding but rather
a reallocation of funds.
Action B-5: "Use the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) as an Energy Research Model."
The committee recommends the creation of an Advanced Research Projects
Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) to sponsor
specific R&D programs focused on America's long-term energy needs.
In particular, ARPA-E would sponsor high-risk, high-payoff energy
research not supported by industry. Funding requirements would be
approximately $300 million in the first year and would increase to
$1 billion per year over 5-6 years. At that point the program's effectiveness
would be evaluated.
Action B-6: "Institute a Presidential Innovation Award to
stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest."
These awards would be presented in addition to existing awards and
would "identify and recognize individuals who develop unique
scientific and engineering innovations in the national interest at
the time they occur." The new awards would "encourage risk-taking
and educate the public about current issues of national interest."
United States the most attractive setting in which to study
and perform research, so that we can develop, recruit, and retain
the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers from
within the United States and throughout the world."
Action C-1: "Increase the number and proportion of US citizens
who earn physical-sciences, life-sciences, engineering, and mathematics
bachelor's degrees by providing 25,000 new 4-year competitive undergraduate
scholarships each year to US citizens attending US institutions."
The goal of action C-1 is to "increase the percentage of 24-year-olds
with first degrees in the natural sciences or engineering in from
the current 6% to the 10% benchmark already met by Finland, France,
Taiwan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom."
The new Undergraduate Scholar Awards in Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics (USA-STEM) awards would be allocated based on the
results of a competitive national exam and would provide up to $20,000
per year for tuition and fees. The scholarships would be awarded by
states and the number of scholarships per state would be determined
based on the size of each state's congressional delegation. Recipients
could use the awards at any accredited US university, and the recipient's
university would receive a grant of $1000 per year.
The total cost of the program would be $1.1 billion over 4 years.
Action C-2: "Fund Graduate Scholar Awards in Science Technology,
Engineering or Mathematics (GSA-STEM), a new scholarship program that
would provide 5000 new portable 3-year competitively awarded graduate
fellowships each year for outstanding US citizens pursuing science,
mathematics, and engineering programs."
The program would be administered by NSF and would focus funding in
"areas of national need," which would be identified by representatives
of other federal agencies. The grants could be used at any institution
and would provide up to $10,500 per year for tuition as well as an
annual stipend of $30,000 (to be adjusted for inflation).
Costs for the program would be $202 million in the first year and
would cost $608 million per year by the third year.
Action C-3: "Provide tax credits up to $500 million each
year to employers who help their eligible employees pursue continuing
The goal of action C-3 is "to keep practicing scientists and
engineers current with rapidly changing science and technology."
To qualify, the courses would be required to meet certain standards.
They could be offered either internally by employers or by external
colleges and universities.
Action C-4: "Continue to expedite visa processing for international
students and scholars."
Action C-4 would "provide less complex procedures and continue
to make improvements on such issues as visa categories and duration,
travel for scientific meetings, the technology-alert list, reciprocity
agreements, and changes in status."
Action C-5: Permit "international students who receive advanced
degrees (doctoral or equivalent) in science, technology, engineering,
mathematics, or other fields of national need
to remain in the
United States for 1 year after graduation to seek employment. If these
students are offered jobs by United States-based employers and pass
a security screening test, they should receive automatic work permits
and expedited residency status."
Action C-5 will "allow the United States to more easily recruit
and retain students and scholars who have opportunities elsewhere
in the world." If students remaining in the US after graduation
are unable to obtain employment within 1 year, their visas would expire.
Action C-6: "Institute a skill-based, preferential new immigration
"Doctoral-level education and science and engineering skills
would significantly raise an applicant's chances of obtaining US citizenship,"
increasing the ability of the US to attract foreign scholars. The
committee also recommends that "in the interim, the government
should increase the number of H-1B visas15 by 10,000 and make the
additional visas available for companies to hire scientists and engineers
with doctorates from US universities."
Action C-7: "Reform the current system of 'deemed exports'."
Currently, the transfer of technology is covered by the Export Administration
Act. Providing "specific information necessary for the 'development,'
'production,' or 'use' of a product" to a foreign national can
be considered a "deemed export" and requires an export license.
The committee recommends a new system allowing foreign scholars participating
in research within the US to have access to information and research
equipment in US laboratories. Any information restricted by national-security
regulations would be excluded.
The new system would also remove from the deemed-exports list all
information and research equipment that is available for purchase
on the overseas open market as well as any items that have manuals
available in the public domain.
United States is the premier place in the world to innovate;
invest in downstream activities such as manufacturing and marketing;
and create high-paying jobs based on innovation by such actions
as modernizing the patent system, realigning tax policies to
encourage innovation, and ensuring affordable broadband access."
Action D-1: "Enhance intellectual-property protection for
the 21st century global economy."
The committee strongly recommends increasing the resources of the
US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the goal of making "intellectual-property
protection more timely, predictable, and effective." Specifically,
increased resources would be used to hire and train more patent examiners,
implement more effective electronic processing, provide an "early
warning" of new technologies to be patented, and conduct systematic
reviews of the performance of USPTO and its individual examiners.
The committee also recommends switching the US patent system from
a "first-to-invent" to a "first-inventor-to-file"
system and instituting a post-grant system of administrative "peer
review." These changes would align US policies with those of
Europe and Japan, save time and money, and aid US inventors in obtaining
A third recommendation of action D-1 is to pass legislation exempting
some research uses of patented inventions from infringement liability.
Should enactment of the legislation be delayed, the committee recommends
providing grantees with the same "authorization and consent"
protection that the Office of Management and Budget provides to contractors.
The committee's final recommendation for action D-1 is to "change
intellectual-property laws that act as barriers to innovation in specific
industries." In particular, this action targets data exclusivity
laws in the pharmaceutical industry and laws leading to frequent and
unpredictable litigation in the information-technology industry.
Action D-2: "Strengthen the R&D tax credit."
The goal of action D-2 is to encourage private investment in innovation.
Although the tax credit has been in existence since 1980, it has never
been permanent, and instead has been repeatedly extended and occasionally
modified. The committee recommends making the tax credit permanent.
This would cost approximately $5 billion per year, equivalent to the
current costs of the tax credit.
The committee also recommends doubling the current rate of the tax
credit, increasing it to 40%. Currently, the effective credit is only
13% (rather than 20%), and the increased rate would greatly increase
the incentive for companies. It would also make the US a more attractive
location for multinational corporations to invest in R&D.
A third recommendation of action D-2 is to change the definition
of "applicable expenses" used to calculate the tax credit.
The current system rewards companies that have significantly increased
their investment of R&D over recent years; however, companies
that consistently invest large amounts in R&D can receive little
or no tax credit. The committee recommends extending the credit to
companies with consistently high levels of R&D investment.
Action D-3: "Provide incentives for US-based innovation."
The committee recommends altering current tax policy to encourage
long-term innovation investment within the US. The committee did not
have time to examine all possible options and their consequences;
however, they suggested a number of possibilities for further analysis.
These include "changes in overall corporate tax rates, provision
of incentives for the purchase of high-technology research and manufacturing
equipment, treatment of capital gains, and incentives for long-term
investments in innovation."
Action D-4: "Ensure ubiquitous broadband internet access."
The committee recommends that Congress do whatever necessary to meet
President Bush's goal of ubiquitous broadband access by 2007. The
committee believes several important changes (some of which are already
underway) are needed in telecommunications regulatory and spectrum
policy. These changes require no federal financial investments.
Committee on Prospering
in the Global Economy of the 21st Century
Norman R. Augustine (Chair), Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed
Corporation, Bethesda, MD
Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation, Chandler,
Gail Cassell, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, and Distinguished
Lilly Research Scholar for Infectious Diseases, Eli Lilly and Company,
Steven Chu, Director, E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
Robert Gates, President, Texas A&M University, College
Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Baltimore,
Charles Holliday Jr., Chairman of the Board and CEO, DuPont
Company, Wilmington, DE
Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
Anita K. Jones, Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Engineering
and Applied Science,
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Joshua Lederberg, Sackler Foundation Scholar, Rockefeller University,
New York, NY
Richard Levin, President, Yale University, New Haven, CT
C. D. (Dan) Mote Jr., President, University of Maryland, College
Cherry Murray, Deputy Director for Science and Technology,
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA
Peter O'Donnell Jr., President, O'Donnell Foundation, Dallas,
Lee R. Raymond, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil Corporation,
Robert C. Richardson, F. R. Newman Professor of Physics and
Vice Provost for
Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
P. Roy Vagelos, Retired Chairman and CEO, Merck, Whitehouse
Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, MA
George M. Whitesides, Woodford L. & Ann A. Flowers University
Professor, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Richard N. Zare, Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural
University, Stanford, CA
Source: Rising Above The Gathering Storm
Contributed by Jenny Fisher, AGI/AAPG 2006 Spring Semester Intern
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted January 27, 2006