National Academies Press: OpenBook

Challenge to Manufacturing: A Proposal for a National Forum. (1988)

Chapter: Letter Report to William R. Graham and Erich Bloch

Suggested Citation:"Letter Report to William R. Graham and Erich Bloch." National Academy of Engineering. 1988. Challenge to Manufacturing: A Proposal for a National Forum.. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18604.
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Suggested Citation:"Letter Report to William R. Graham and Erich Bloch." National Academy of Engineering. 1988. Challenge to Manufacturing: A Proposal for a National Forum.. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18604.
Page 5

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Letter Report to William R. Graham and Erich Bloch The following letter was addressed to William R. Graham, Science Advisor to the President, and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and to Erich Bloch, Director of the National Science Foundation, on June 7,1988. We have now completed our preliminary investigation of the desirability of creating a forum for the discussion of the broad problems that confront the manufacturing sector. A principal source of information regarding the need and desirability for this type of activity was derived from the workshop that was sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering and the Na- tional Academy of Sciences on March 25,1988. We particularly want to thank you for your active participation in this workshop and for the very constructive contributions that you made to the discussions. It seems safe to conclude from the workshop discussions and from conver- sations that we had with a number of chief executive officers of manufac- turing companies that the manufacturing sector continues to experience severe competitive pressures. An effective response to these pressures will require a number of actions that involve various sectors of our society. In particular, industry itself must address the way in which it designs, manu- factures, markets, and services its products. Government has a major role in establishing an economic, fiscal, regulatory, and legal environment that en- courages industry to compete aggressively in the world marketplace. The university community has a role in educating the people who will work in and lead our manufacturing industries and in creating and communicating the new technology that will serve as an effective tool in improving the competitiveness of industry. Although each of these sectors of society can proceed independently to ac- complish its mission, it is obvious that there are a number of important is- sues that affect them all. It is also clear that the issues that occur at the inter- face between the various sectors are often the most troublesome since there is no standard mechanism that regularly brings the representatives of sec- tors together to address mutual problems and opportunities. It was the general consensus of the workshop that the bringing together of people to discuss the broad issues that affect several sectors could probably be performed by a forum of the type that we have envisioned. It was the overwhelming view of the participants that this type of activity would suc- ceed only if it had the endorsement and active participation of the senior

policymakers of all the sectors that are involved. Thus, it was agreed that success is likely only if cabinet- or subcabinet-level officers of the govern- ment, chief executive and chief operating officers, or key vice-presidents of corporations, key representatives of labor, and presidents or chief academic officers of the universities are willing to devote the time necessary to meet and discuss these issues on a regular basis and facilitate actions based on these discussions. It is our conclusion that this topic is worthy of further exploration. In view of the possible change in the senior-level administrators of the government in early 1989, we believe that it is best to delay further actions until the topic can be brought to the attention of the new administration. If the re- sponsible policymakers in the new administration, along with the appropri- ate representatives of other sectors, are enthusiastic about this concept, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences are prepared to proceed with the creation of a Manufacturing Forum. We believe, however, that the initiative for this effort properly rests with the government. We attach to this letter a summary of the workshop discussions. We will publish, as soon as it is practicable, copies of the four papers that were pre- pared for the workshop, a draft of a charter that could form the basis of a future Manufacturing Forum, along with the summary of the workshop discussions. We hope that this document will be useful in the exploration of this matter with the next administration. Copies of the complete publication will be forwarded to you as soon as it is available. If the Academies can be of further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. Frank Press Robert M. White President President National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering

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