In 2005 the National Academies was requested, on a bipartisan basis, to conduct a review of America’s competitiveness in the rapidly evolving global marketplace and, as appropriate, to offer specific actions that could be taken by federal policymakers to ensure the nation’s position as a prosperous member of the global economy of the twenty-first century. Ten weeks were allotted for the conduct of the study, after which a 500-page volume was produced bearing the title, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.”
The initial request for the study was made jointly by Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Jeff Bingaman, both of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and was endorsed by Representative Sherwood Boehlert and Representative Bart Gordon of the House Committee on Science and Technology. The study’s conduct was supported by numerous members of the House of Representatives and Senate from both parties as well as members of the Administration, including the President.
In responding to the above request, the National Academies convened a twenty-person committee composed of individuals having highly diverse professional backgrounds. These included chief executive officers of major corporations, presidents of public and private universities, scientists and engineers (including three Nobel Laureates), former presidential appointees, and the superintendent of a state school system. The committee benefited greatly from the inputs of well over one hundred experts in specific fields and the support of a remarkable staff directed by Dr. Deborah Stine. Before being approved the report was subjected to an anonymous critique by 37 members of the National Academies.
The present document was reviewed and endorsed by members of the same committee that had prepared the initial Gathering Storm report, with the exceptions of Dr. Robert Gates and Dr. Steven Chu, who are now serving as Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy, respectively. Further, the members of the committee observe with deep regret the death in 2008 of our much respected colleague and friend, Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg.
The original Gathering Storm report concluded that the fundamental measure of competitiveness is quality jobs. It is jobs that to a considerable degree define the quality of life