1960s—to a position of unquestioned leadership across broad areas of science and technology. The expansion of our national commitment to R&D in this period was substantial, moving the R&D enterprise from about 1 percent to 3 percent of our annual gross domestic product. Overall, about one-half of this effort has been financed by the federal government, and industry has been by far the greatest performer (75 percent of the total), with universities and government laboratories sharing—in quite different niches—most of the remaining effort.
Despite the many successes of the existing arrangements, many troublesome signs require our thoughtful consideration. Some of the more important of these are the following:
Increasing evidence that the federal government is reevaluating all its major investments (e.g., in health, welfare, and defense), including its investment in R&D—particularly the nature and level of its support of its own laboratories and of university-based research programs.
Increasing evidence that the number of highly qualified investigators, and of challenging research issues, is growing faster than the public 's willingness and/or capacity to support such efforts. This has led to what some consider an unproductive competition for funds and suboptimal allocation procedures. More important, it is unclear whether the dynamic evolution of the system established in the post-World War II period can be sustained.
Increasing evidence that, despite a high level of federal support for R&D, the federal investment in the overall R&D system is no longer based on any coherent overall policy or strategy. In a rapidly changing environment, U.S. science policy has been unable to strengthen its moorings, leave its moorings, or —to date—select a new framework of reference.
Increasing evidence that the post-World War II consensus achieved between the scientific community, the government, and industry on what public policy in science would serve the short-term and long-run needs of society is becoming undone.
Increasing evidence that science, technology, and innovation will not, by themselves, solve the nation's most pressing problems.
Increasing evidence that circumstances have shifted in such an important way that a rather different, or modified, set of approaches to public policy in the area of science is required. In particular, the issue of sustaining continued growth in national economic productivity has begun to supplant some of the earlier goals expressed in U.S. science policy. In this respect, there is a growing sense among some policymakers that it would serve our national interest to focus less on the generation of new ideas and to develop instead a better national capacity for more