This report has examined the changing environment for research and technology development, with particular emphasis on the role and responsibility of the federal government in R&D and technology policy. In addition, the previous chapters provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in current federal programs to assist industry in civilian technology development, transfer, and adoption.
As we have seen, the economic and technological environment in which private firms develop and commercialize new technologies has been altered in a fundamental manner since World War II. Over the past 25 years, the world economy has changed dramatically. It is characterized by improved communication systems, the international flow of capital and trade, the rapid diffusion of information and technology across national borders, and advances in technology utilization. All of these factors have improved the capacities of firms outside the United States to commercialize products and services.
The United States continues to exhibit great strength in technology, especially in the generation of new and innovative products and processes. U.S. performance in technology commercialization, however, is being challenged more strongly than ever before as a result of improvements in the capabilities of foreign firms. We believe, therefore, that the federal government needs to promote a higher rate of technological performance in the United States. We should build on the nation’s strengths in research and advanced technology. It is sensible and appropriate to capitalize on U.S.