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7 Conclusions and Recommendations The forum steering committee has taken the various inputs of the forum event, follow-up discussions, and complementary work by other groups to formulate the long-term goals that it believes America should work toward to sustain and enhance its ability to harness science and technology for economic growth.30 The long-term goals are presented below with a number of specific action items. Long-Term Goal 1: Over the next decade, achieve a sustained level of productivity growth that will allow rising living standards and noninflationary economic growth. In its 1993 report to the president and Congress, the Competitiveness Policy Council (CPC) set out the objective of raising productivity growth to 2 percent per year, roughly the rate achieved by the U.S. economy during the period 1947-1973. During the period 1973-1995, productivity growth was much lower, about 0.4 percent, but we have seen a sharp upturn in the past few years. Notwithstanding debate of measurement issues, discussed in chapter 2, the steering committee believes that productivity growth of at least 2 percent per year, as called for by the CPC, is an appropriate long-term target. 30 In particular, see COSEPUP (1999), STEP (1999), and U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science (1998).
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General Recommendations and Specific Action Items 1-A Increase investments in science and technology as a top national priority: • Federal investment is still a necessary ingredient for sustaining U.S. capabilities. We endorse the bipartisan effort to pass legislation calling for substantial increases in federal science and technology investments as a good start after a number of years of low real growth in the science and technology budget. Particular attention should be paid to emerging fields of science and technology in which cuts in long-term industrial research and Department of Defense basic research spending have had a severe impact. • Although industry funds two-thirds of all U.S. research and development (R&D), only about 7 percent of academic research is funded by industry. U.S. industry, universities, and government should work together to raise this proportion to 20 percent over the next 10 years. The role of new incentives, such as tax incentives, should be explored. • Industry-university partnerships with all levels of government should be encouraged, with flexible design and implementation. Working through the U.S. Innovation Partnership, federal, state, and local governments should establish a program of matching grants for state and local government partnerships with industry and universities to harness science and technology for economic development. • To encourage private-sector R&D investment, the R&D tax credit should be made permanent. Federal, state, and local governments should institute similar tax incentives for R&D investment and industry collaboration with universities. 1-B Undertake policy restructuring to improve effectiveness and leverage of investments: • The federal government should lead in structuring international research cooperation that advances fundamental knowledge, building on the lessons of recent years. • The 1995 report Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories remains an appropriate blueprint for national laboratories (Task Force on Alternative Futures, 1995). 1-C Develop better metrics and understanding of science and technology trends, and connections with economic growth: • Inspired by Motorola and the semiconductor industry, a number of industries and companies are conducting technology road-mapping activities. These should be continued with expanded efforts to share perspectives across fields and sectors.
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• We have made progress over the years, but we still need to better understand how science and technology are translated into economic growth. We also need to continue work on measuring productivity. Long-Term Goal 2: Increase the number and proportion of Americans prepared for scientific and engineering careers, with a focus on underrepresented groups. Intellectual capital and well-trained people are key to delivering sustained benefits of science and technology to all Americans. If we attack our educational problems effectively over the next decade, we should be able to raise the proportion of Americans versed in technology and its applications. Improving the participation rate of underrepresented groups should be a particular focus. One metric is the number of Americans receiving scientific, engineering, and technology training at various levels. For example, fewer than 40 percent of the engineering doctorates awarded by U.S. institutions are earned by Americans. One possible goal would be to increase this proportion to over 50 percent in the next 5 to 10 years. General Recommendations and Specific Action Items 2-A Continue and extend efforts to improve K-12 science and technology education: • Problems in K-12 education are fairly well understood, and most of the work will need to be done at the state and local levels. The National Academies and other scientific and engineering leaders should continue efforts to work with states and localities to set standards, promote best practices, and improve overall science and technology literacy. 2-B Create a supportive culture and new institutions that facilitate life-long learning: • Information technologies can play a major role. The University of Phoenix and the National Technological University are examples. 2-C Enable more Americans to enter scientific- and engineering-oriented careers, especially underrepresented groups. • Although use of foreign science and engineering talent has been and will be an important aspect of filling our need for human resources, high-technology industries need to improve and broaden the science and engineering human resource base among American citizens. Corporations and individuals that have gained great economic benefit from the high-technology boom have a responsibility to invest time and resources in local schools and in programs such as Teach for America and groups such as the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Devel-
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oping metrics on the level of private giving to these initiatives and future goals would provide a better picture of trends. Long-Term Goal 3: Maintain and improve the domestic and global market environment for U.S.-generated innovations to allow us to prosper in a global economy. 3-A Adopt national standards for securities litigation and product liability. 3-B Continue to examine trade, antitrust, and intellectual property policies with the aim of opening markets globally for U.S.-generated innovations.
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