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PART I: COMMITTEE REPORT
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY If America is to achieve sustained economic growth and improved living standards in the next century, the creation and effective use of science and technology will be essential. To explore how the nation can best advance science and technology for improved economic performance over the next 10 to 20 years, the National Research Council (NRC) organized the National Forum on Harnessing Science and Technology for America's Economic Future, which was held in February 1998. On the basis of forum discussions and other materials, a committee of the NRC's Office of Special Projects developed this report, including its findings and recommendations. America's ability to translate science and technology into new products and processes, wealth, and jobs is strong today. An outstanding research base, particularly the close linkage between research and education at U.S. research universities, is fundamental to this strength. A second essential element is the financial and cultural environment that encourages the formation and growth of companies based on science and technology. Both those elements will need to be sustained in the future. The United States also must address serious deficiencies to ensure that science- and technology-based economic gains continue and extend to the broad mass of Americans in the form of good jobs and improved living standards. The most serious deficiency is in K-12 education. Working with local communities and industry, the science and engineering community can contribute to improving schools so that more Americans are prepared for careers in tomorrow's science- and technology-based industries. The United States also must ensure that fundamental research is funded adequately, particularly in fields important
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for future economic growth in which funding has been flat or industry and federal investment time horizons have shortened, such as information technology. The steering committee has developed three long-term goals for the nation, and related policy recommendations. Goal 1: Over the next decade, achieve a sustained level of productivity growth that will allow rising living standards and noninflationary economic growth. Recommendations: 1. Increase investments in science and technology. 2. Develop new mechanisms for international research collaboration to advance fundamental knowledge, drawing on the experience of recent years. 3. Develop better metrics and understanding of science and technology trends and their connections with economic growth. Goal 2: Increase the number and proportion of Americans prepared for science and engineering careers, with a focus on underrepresented groups. Recommendations: 1. Scientists and engineers should work with local communities to improve K-12 education. 2. Create institutions and a supportive culture that facilitates lifelong learning. 3. U.S. industry and wealthy individuals, particularly those who have gained great economic benefits from the high-technology boom, should focus effort and resources on improving education for a scienceand technology-savvy workforce. Goal 3: Improve the domestic and global market environment for U.S.-generated innovations. Recommendations: 1. Adopt national standards for securities litigation and product liability. 2. Examine trade, antitrust, and intellectual property policies with a view to improving global market access for U.S.-generated innovations.
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