making a set of recommendations on government funding that would be subject to a single up-or-down vote, similar to the commission asked to designate military bases for closing. Without such a step, said Wolf, “I can’t help but wonder what sort of future today’s partisan Washington is leaving to our children and grandchildren.”

In addition to its weaknesses, the United States has particular strengths in innovation, speakers at the convocation noted. One is our historical openness to new immigrants and new ideas. “Openness has traditionally been the sign of our confidence,” said Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. “When we are confident as a nation, when we know we can compete, we are open. I’m talking about openness to investments, openness to trade, and openness to people. We have always been at our best when we have been open.”

From left to right, Sec. Margaret Spellings, Sec. Samuel Bodman, and Sec. Carlos Gutierrez

From left to right, Sec. Margaret Spellings, Sec. Samuel Bodman, and Sec. Carlos Gutierrez

The United States also has a long history of successful innovation. Many companies based on new technologies that became world leaders were founded in the United States. Today, U.S. companies and the U.S. workforce continue to have a flexibility that is needed to adapt to new circumstances. Teams of “scientists, engineers, marketers, managers, distributors, and creative thinkers” can be founts of creativity, said Deborah Wince-Smith, President of the Council on Competitiveness. “Let me also make the case that marketing, entertainment, artists, cultural anthropologists, even archeologists — people who look at the world in a different way — need to be brought together as part of our skill base.”

A history of cooperation between the public sector and private sector is another great strength of the U.S. innovation system. “Maybe that is the secret of our success,” said Sen. Hutchison. “Our academics are not just sitting in ivory towers talking to each other. They’re talking to people in the private sector who are doing research or thinking of ideas.” SEMATECH, which began as a public-private collaborative effort to improve the manufacturing competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry, is an excellent example of an effective and cooperative applied research program. According to George Scalise, President of the Semiconductor Industry Association, “The consortium included semiconductor component, semiconductor equipment, and materials suppliers in a suc-



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