much as economic studies show that the social rate of return on federal and private investment in research is often 30% or more (Tables 2-1 and 2-2). The committee fully recognizes the extant demands on the federal budget, but it believes that few problems facing the nation have more profound implications for America than the one addressed herein and, thus believes, that the investment it entails should be given high priority.
The committee has been cautious in its analysis of information. However, the available information is, in some instances, insufficient for the committee’s needs. In addition, the limited timeframe to develop the report (10 weeks from the time of the committee’s meeting to report release) is inadequate to conduct an independent analysis. Even if unlimited time were available, definitive analysis of many issues is simply not possible given the uncertainties involved.
The recommendations in this report rely heavily on the experience, consensus views, and judgments of the committee members. Although the committee consists of leaders from academe, industry, and government—including several current and former industry chief executive officers, university presidents, researchers (including three Nobel prize winners), and former presidential appointees—the array of topics and policies covered in this study is so broad that it was impossible to assemble a committee of 20 members with directly relevant expertise in each. The committee has therefore relied heavily on the judgments of experts in the study’s focus groups, additional consultations with other experts, and the panel of 37 expert reviewers.
The recommendations herein should be subjected to continuing evaluation and refinement. In particular, the committee encourages regular evaluations to determine the efficacy of its policy recommendations in reaching the nation’s goals. If the proposals prove successful, more investment may be warranted. If not, programs should be modified or dropped from the portfolio.
The committee’s recommendations are the fundamental actions the nation should take if it is to prosper in the 21st century. Just as “reading, writing, and arithmetic” are essential for any student to succeed—regardless of career—“education, research, and innovation” are essential if the nation is to succeed in providing jobs for its citizenry.