"Rising Above the Gathering Storm," the new report from the
National Academies, lays out 20 specific actions the federal government
should take to ensure America's economic leadership and ability to compete
in the 21st century. These actions are listed below. The report includes,
in an appendix, "back of the envelope" cost estimates for
implementing its recommendations; costs for the entire package of proposals
could range from about $9 billion to over $20 billion annually. FYIs
#155 and #156
provided additional information on the report and on indicators that
the U.S.'s global competitiveness may be declining; a future FYI will
provide additional information on the report's release and related congressional
The report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and
Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future," runs approximately
150 pages plus a lengthy series of appendices. It can be ordered, or
read online, at the following web site: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11463.html
. The recommendations are summarized in the Executive Summary, which
can be found at http://www.nap.edu/execsumm_pdf/11463.pdf.
The report's recommendations follow:
10,000 TEACHERS, 10 MILLION MINDS IN K-12 SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS
"Recommendation A: Increase America's talent pool
by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education."
"Action A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science
and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby
educating 10 million minds." The program would "award competitive
4-year scholarships for...bachelor's degrees in the physical or life
sciences, engineering, or mathematics with concurrent certification
as K-12 science and mathematics teachers...and require a commitment
to 5 years of service in public K-12 schools."
"Action A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000
teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes,
in master's programs, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate
(AP and IB) training programs and thus inspire students every day."
This item includes establishing a national panel to "develop
rigorous K-12 materials that would be available free of charge as
a voluntary national curriculum."
"Action A-3: Enlarge the pipeline by increasing
the number of students who take AP and IB science and mathematics
courses...from 1.2 million to 4.5 million" by 2010. "Student
incentives for success would include 50% examination fee rebates and
$100 mini-scholarships for each passing score on an AP or IB mathematics
and science examination."
The committee also proposes "expansion of two additional
approaches...that are already in use": Statewide specialty high
schools, and Inquiry-based learning through summer internships and
research opportunities for students.
SOWING THE SEEDS THROUGH SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH
"Recommendation B: Sustain and strengthen the nation's
traditional commitment to long-term basic research that has the potential
to be transformational to maintain the flow of new ideas that fuel the
economy, provide security, and enhance the quality of life."
"Action B-1: Increase the federal investment
in long-term basic research by 10% a year over the next 7 years, through
reallocation of existing funds or if necessary through the investment
of new funds. Special attention should go to the physical sciences,
engineering, mathematics, and information sciences," but this
"special attention does not mean...a disinvestment in such important
fields as the life sciences."
"Action B-2: Provide new research grants of $500,000
each annually, payable over 5 years, to 200 of our most outstanding
early-career researchers...to underwrite new research opportunities
at universities and government laboratories."
"Action B-3: Institute a National Coordination
Office for Research Infrastructure to manage a centralized research-infrastructure
fund of $500 million per year over the next 5 years."
"Action B-4: Allocate at least 8% of the budgets
of federal research agencies to discretionary funding that would be
managed by technical program managers...and be focused on catalyzing
high-risk, high-payoff research."
"Action B-5: Create in the Department of Energy
(DOE) an organization like the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
(ARPA-E)," with the director reporting to the under secretary
for science, that would sponsor creative "out-of-the-box"
generic energy R&D "to meet the nation's long-term energy
"Action B-6: Institute a Presidential Innovation
Award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national
BEST AND BRIGHTEST IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING HIGHER EDUCATION
"Recommendation C: Make the United States the most
attractive setting in which to study and perform research so that we
can develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists,
and engineers from within the United States and throughout the world."
"Action C-1: Increase the number and proportion
of US citizens who earn physical-sciences, life-sciences, engineering,
and mathematics bachelor's degrees by providing 25,000 new 4-year
competitive undergraduate scholarships each year to US citizens attending
US institutions." The scholarships, of up to $20,000 annually,
"would be distributed to states on the basis of the size of their
congressional delegations and awarded on the basis of national examinations."
"Action C-2: Increase the number of US citizens
pursuing graduate study in areas of national need' by funding
5,000 new graduate fellowships each year," of up to $20,000 annually,
administered by NSF.
"Action C-3: Provide a federal tax credit to
encourage employers to make continuing education available (either
internally or through colleges and universities) to practicing scientists
and engineers" to enable career-long learning and retraining
for new job market demands.
"Action C-4: Continue to improve visa processing
for international students and scholars," including improvements
in visa categories and duration, reciprocity, travel to scientific
meetings, and the technology alert list.
"Action C-5: Provide a 1-year automatic visa
extension to international students who receive doctorates or the
equivalent in...fields of national need at qualified US institutions
to remain in the United States to seek employment." Students
who are offered jobs by US-based employers and pass a security screening
test "should be provided automatic work permits and expedited
"Action C-6: Institute a new skills-based, preferential
immigration option" so that candidates with doctoral-level education
or science and engineering skills would receive "priority in
obtaining US citizenship" and, in the interim, increase the number
of H-1B visas by 10,000.
"Action C-7: Reform the current system of deemed
exports'" so that "international students and researchers
engaged in fundamental research" in US industrial, academic,
and national laboratories receive access to information and research
equipment "comparable with the access provided to US citizens."
Additionally, items (information and equipment) that are "available
for purchase on the overseas open market" or "that have
manuals that are available in the public domain" should be removed
from the deemed-exports technology list.
INCENTIVES FOR INNOVATION AND THE INVESTMENT ENVIRONMENT
"Recommendation D: Ensure that the United States
is the premier place in the world to innovate; invest in downstream
activities such as manufacturing and marketing; and create high-paying
jobs that are based on innovation by modernizing the patent system,
realigning tax policies to encourage innovation, and ensuring affordable
"Action D-1: Enhance intellectual-property protection
for the 21st century global economy" through reform of the patent
system by: providing sufficient resources to the Patent and Trademark
Office; switching to a "first-inventor-to-file" system with
administrative review after a patent is granted; shielding research
uses of patented inventions from infringement liability; and changing
intellectual-property laws that act as barriers to innovation.
"Action D-2: Enact a stronger research and development
tax credit to encourage private investment in innovation."
"Action D-3: Provide tax incentives for United
"Action D-4: Ensure ubiquitous broadband Internet
Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics