important needs or problems are clearly seen by some (for example, some part of the S&T community or a public interest group) but are not universally recognized, and there is no consensus on the seriousness of the problem or on how to address it. The current question of how to respond to predictions of global climate change may be an example of this.''
Enabling the Future stresses the importance of linking technology goals to societal goals that go deeper than the pervasive goal of creating new jobs. A companion report, Science, Technology, and the States,2 notes that this is difficult: "Partnership between government, industry and academia requires consensus about broad issues. Few states have a formal process for developing such views." Nevertheless, states and communities are using a variety of planning and goal-setting approaches to move public investments and policies in more thoughtful directions. All of these efforts start with the premise that strategic decisions based on some modicum of data, analysis, and thought will yield better results than would the political system if it were left alone.
After more than two decades of federal dominance of the environmental policy agenda, states are beginning to reassert their role in setting goals and priorities for environmental quality within their borders. State environmental agencies have assumed greater responsibilities as they have developed additional technical and legal capacity.3 Three approaches to setting priorities and implementing a strategic agenda are capturing state attention: (a) comparing the risks posed by environmental problems and comparing the efficacy of alternative strategies for risk reduction; (b) tracking environmental "indicators" and publishing them in annual "state-of-the-environment" reports; and (c) setting measurable environmental goals and tracking progress toward them.
Together, these three approaches have the potential to help states and cities focus on serious problems, track the problems and the jurisdiction's effectiveness at dealing with them, and provide the impetus for corrective actions that will keep the state or city moving in the chosen direction. Most of the environmental agencies using these approaches have integrated them into a public education/public involvement strategy. The reports and indicators are designed specifically to give voters the technical information they need to make more informed choices about environmental priorities and policies and to bolster the connection between the public and their agencies. Some states have tried one or two of these approaches; several states have linked all three. The combination of the three approaches could approximate the kind of consensus-building forum envisioned by the Carnegie reports, and could strengthen the incentives for the S&T community to address serious longer-term problems.