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Reaching Our Goals

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Reaching Our Goals

To reach each of the five goals articulated above, this Administration proposes a coherent, integrated set of policies and will work to refine and implement them in concert with the Congress, state and local governments, academia, industry, the research and educational communities, and our citizens. We are all stakeholders in the scientific enterprise, and we now must focus on a shared commitment.

American Presidents have a tradition of strong support for science and technology. This Administration has already taken two key steps to help move us towards our goals. In November 1993, the President established the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to coordinate Federal research and development across the government. This cabinet-level group, chaired by the President, elevates science and technology policy discussions to the level of those for national security, domestic, and economic policy. The NSTC will couple research to the fiscal and regulatory structures needed to facilitate application of science and technology to the national interest. In November 1993, the President also established the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). This group of academic and industry advisors will provide valuable community input on major policy issues.

Goal: Maintain leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge

It has seldom proved possible to anticipate which areas of science will bring forward surprising and important breakthroughs at any give time. Therefore, U.S. scientists must be among those working at the leading edge in all major fields in order for us to retain and improve our competitive position in the long term. This means that U.S. scientists and engineers continue to make a significant share of the most important scientific advances. They must maintain our tradition of scientific excellence, produce a scientific, engineering and technical workforce educated at the highest levels in all important disciplines and technologies, and create an infrastructure able to capitalize on and advance key discoveries no matter where they occur. This goal will serve the NSTC as the principal guide to investment in fundamental science and engineering research.

Breadth of scientific excellence is necessary to maintain the enterprise at the appropriate standard. Different areas of science and their associated cutting-edge technologies are tightly interconnected. Advances in one area often have unanticipated major benefits in totally different areas. Furthermore, nature yields her most precious secrets in surprising ways, to those who are well prepared and persistent, and with a schedule not often amenable to detailed planning. Thus, although we can and must do more to identify and coordinate research thrusts aimed at strategic goals, we must not limit our future by restricting the range of our inquiry. Vibrant scientific disciplines are best guaranteed by the initiatives of talented investigators and in turn provide the strongest and most enduring foundation for science in the national interest. That quantum theory would lead to today's electronics, or investigations of DNA structure to genetic engineering, could not be anticipated. Countless examples could be provided; the few which accompany this statement are tangible evidence of inspiration, promise, and improved quality of life for our citizens. We can be confident that our children and grandchildren will look back at today's fundamental science and its ultimate benefit with the same surprise and appreciation that we experience today.

Accomplishing this leadership goal will require that the NSTC and PCAST evaluate both the research portfolio and the status of the physical infrastructure needed for research. Coordination of agency responsibilities and commitments in these areas will be essential for appropriate stewardship of the scientific enterprise during this period of fiscal constraint. The NSTC will initiate Presidential Review Directives and Presidential Decision Directives to ensure that science and technology policy decisions are implemented across the participating agencies. Nine NSTC standing committees, including one specifically focused on Fundamental Science, are composed of senior officials from the agencies and from the Executive Office of the President. They identify priorities and prepare technical information, implementation plans, and milestones and measures of progress in support of NSTC priorities. Long range planning and stable support will be important ingredients in this Administration's strategy.

As a result of deliberate and successful long-term investment strategies, a number of countries now possess world-class research capabilities. If U.S. researchers are to sustain leadership and strengthen participation in collaborative scientific endeavors, we must increase our level of interaction with colleagues in other countries. In many important areas of contemporary research, ranging from studies of seismic activity to biodiversity to global change, our scientists can be optimally effective only through international partnerships. In areas such as high energy physics, space exploration, and nuclear fusion research where expensive facilities are required, it is only sensible to share with other countries both the benefits and the costs of constructing and operating these facilities. We should also look for opportunities to engage developing nations more fully in the international science endeavor. As a logical consequence of the North American Free Trade Agreement and long-term policies, we should continue to pay particular attention to engaging the scientific communities of the Americas.

There is already a considerable amount of scientist-to-scientist interaction and collaboration. This is the foundation of international scientific cooperation. However, the government has an important role both in lowering barriers and in supporting large scale collaborations. For example, interoperability of data bases and networks is crucial for enhancing collaboration, and we will continue to work towards appropriate international standards. Strengthened science and technology presence overseas can aid information gathering, identify more opportunities for effective collaboration, and provide the basis for economic relations in technical areas. We must enter international collaborations with clear responsibilities and secure commitments for each partner. For this, we must establish with the Congress mechanisms for prioritizing, committing to, and then sustaining long term support for large projects. This need applies equally well to large American projects with multi-year time scales.

Over the long term, U.S. investment in fundamental research must be commensurate with our national goals. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) provides the benchmark for total economic activity and thus the most meaningful measure of the R&D investment. Total U.S. support of non-defense R&D is about 1.9 percent of GDP, below that of Germany (2.5 percent) and Japan (3.0 percent). Including all defense R&D (most of which is applied research, development, testing and evaluation), the U.S. total becomes 2.6 percent. The dominant part of the non-defense R&D investment is industrially sponsored applied research and development, that is, activity relatively close to the marketplace. The special responsibility of the Federal investment in sponsoring fundamental research is highlighted by noting that about two-thirds of fundamental research support is Federal, in comparison to about one-third of the applied research and development support (including defense R&D). Still, the Federal expenditure for basic research, the "venture capital" of our national enterprise, is only 0.27 percent of the GDP.

We must put into place better mechanisms to evaluate our investment strategy and to make changes as later evaluations and future conditions demand. This Administration's strong emphasis on shifting the character of defense R&D towards dual civilian-military use will help focus our overall R&D investment much more on the marketplace. With steady progress here, a reasonable long term goal for the total national R&D investment (both civilian and defense) might be about 3 percent of GDP. This modest increment should be shared by the Federal government and the private sector. Additional work on how to assess this long term goal will be conducted within the NSTC. In any event, the private sector investment will be driven by the global marketplace in an increasingly technology-based society, with government fiscal and regulatory policies enabling and stimulating investment. As the private sector investment is likely to remain heavily weighted towards shorter term applied research and development, properly so, the Federal investment must further strengthen fundamental research, rebuild the science infrastructure, and strengthen longer term applied research and development, thereby providing the seed funds for long term health of the R&D enterprise.

Our investment budget in fundamental science will be improved in the short term as we examine existing resources and, to match the growing importance of science as a foundation of modern society, increased with future improvements in the Federal government's fiscal condition.

The NSTC will provide ongoing evaluation of America's position in fundamental science, mathematics, and engineering and recommend actions to assure world leadership in all major fields.

Our investment in fundamental science must be accompanied by careful attention to support for international collaborations. The NSTC, with advice from PCAST, will recommend policies for long-term multinational agreements for the support of large scientific projects.

We will work with Congress to find mechanisms for long-term authorization and budgeting commitments for large projects whether conducted exclusively by American scientists or in partnerships with other countries.

Goal: Enhance connections between fundamental research and national goals

Scientific knowledge is necessary for helping us achieve our national goals of improved health, environment, prosperity, national security and quality of life. Equally important are the social institutions, markets and government programs that promote the dissemination of knowledge, technologies, and products. This Administration has taken significant steps, such as strong support of the Advanced Technology Program and establishment of the Technology Reinvestment Program, towards accelerating the development of technologies critical for long- term economic growth and for increasing productivity while reducing environmental impact. Success in this effort demands sustained commitment to fundamental science, the foundation on which technical progress ultimately rests. Truly unexpected technologies, some of which reshape our work, education, recreation, and well-being, generally stem from discoveries of fundamental research which have given us an entirely new way to see how nature works.

This does not mean that the societal benefits of science and technology follow a linear progression from fundamental to applied research, and then development into a product. We depart here from the Vannevar Bush canon, which suggested a competition between basic and applied research. Instead, we acknowledge the intimate relationships among and interdependence of basic research, applied research, and technology, appreciate that progress in any one depends on advances in the others, and indeed recognize that it is often misleading to label a particular activity as belonging uniquely to one category. All contribute essentially to our national strategic goals. The synergy between science and technology requires coherent Federal policies in both areas. The NSTC will be the Administration's principal instrument to instill coherence in the Federal research and development enterprise. The Council will identify research thrusts of special promise and develop the appropriate investment portfolio across Federal agencies.

Many Federal agencies depend upon and contribute to our science and technology base in pursuing their missions supporting national goals. Federal laboratories associated with these agencies are an important part of our national science investment and infrastructure. For example, in addition to directly supporting agency research and development needs, they operate large facilities for fundamental research by university scientists and develop, maintain, and disseminate critical data bases. In these changing times, their missions and contributions to national goals are changing as well. They must be part of strengthened connections between fundamental research and evolving national goals.

We understand that the fruit of fundamental research initiatives may not ripen for some time. The time scale can be long, and success may hinge on facilities or interdisciplinary research teams that take years to assemble. Even in the face of current budgetary pressures, considerations about fundamental science, including the social and behavioral sciences, must remain integral to the agency planning activities. We cannot allow a short-term mission focus to compromise development of the intellectual capital vital to our Nation's future.

The NSTC will foster, prioritize, and coordinate major cross-agency fundamental research and education initiatives coupled to national goals.

Each agency that depends on or contributes to our science and technology base will, with involvement of the scientific community, delineate its fundamental research and education missions with respect to the national goals; develop long-range plans for its fundamental science, mathematics and engineering investment; and develop measures to evaluate its contributions.

A cross-agency review of Federal laboratories will give particular attention to their role in support of national goals and their effectiveness in performance and support of fundamental science, mathematics and engineering.

Goal: Stimulate partnerships that promote investments in fundamental science and engineering and effective use of physical, human, and financial resources

The Federal government can foster the conditions that stimulate private sector investments in fundamental research and in the facilities in which competitive research and quality education are conducted. For industry, these include an appropriate fiscal and budgetary environment, a stable science-based regulatory system, a global trade environment which encourages commercialization of technology, and intellectual property protection. For colleges, universities, and medical schools, the conditions include stable policies on research funding, establishing equitable policies for financing the construction, renovation, and modernization of educational and research facilities, and modernizing the costing principles for academic buildings and equipment.

Economic competitiveness is rooted in the health of industry at state and local levels. That is where job creation occurs. Thus, we seek to leverage industry-university collaboration using existing state mechanisms and to encourage new state initiatives.

The underlying purpose of industrial and industrially-sponsored research is to stimulate innovation and thereby to create new business opportunity. The principal determinants of success are the quality of the scientists and engineers available to industry and the knowledge base and core competencies which permit both informed decision-making and technological innovations. Thus, the continued health of our major research universities is of utmost importance to our science and technology-based industrial sector. Research is, by its nature, a long-term activity and our industrial managers should be able to plan their commitments with the security that government policies will be reasonably predictable throughout the research activity.

The heartland of fundamental science and engineering research and advanced education is our unmatched system of research universities and federal laboratories. While fundamental research is declining in much of industry, industrial leaders frequently speak of the value of "people transfer" and "idea transfer" with academic institutions. Faculty and student participation in industrial research and in industrially-sponsored research can have many benefits beyond the research product itself: the educational benefit to the students of learning about the industrial environment; the access of industry to many of our most talented faculty; early identification of the most promising students; possible long-term research collaboration on problems of interest to industry.

Our research infrastructure (the people, instrumentation, information systems, institutions, and buildings) in colleges and universities, in industry, and in Federal laboratories is an enormous national resource. It enables our highly successful research enterprise to continue forward in a leadership position. It is a resource which must be continuously renewed and renovated. Used judiciously, it can also be one of our most effective resources for addressing our national objective of improved science and mathematics education. Stronger coupling between researchers and teachers at all levels--from kindergarten through graduate school--will naturally bring these resources into play to enrich our educational system.

The magnitude of the costs of repairing research laboratories and upgrading research instrumentation indicates a continuing need for government programs to modernize our research infrastructure and policies that will encourage private sector investments. Given the strictures on funding of discretionary government programs for the foreseeable future, and the priority this Administration places on strengthening the support for research funding, it is essential that careful consideration be given to the design of an infrastructure renewal program. The National Science Foundation estimates that the total cost of performing all needed repair and renovation of existing academic research space is in the range of $7 to $8 billion. These figures do not include provision for replacement of space that is of such poor quality that renovation would not be appropriate. Institutions indicated that 13 percent of their existing research space needed major repair to be used effectively, and an additional 23 percent needed limited repair. An additional 3 percent was reported to be in such poor condition that complete replacement would be needed. Further, a survey of academic department heads indicated that high priority scientific instrumentation needs total about $3 billion. The primary justification for the highest priority needs was that of making important frontier experiments accessible to academic researchers, both faculty and students.

Partnerships between the Federal government and states can also be used to develop scientific resources and talent throughout the country. The Federal government already seeds partnerships with participating states, and the states provide matching funds as a demonstration of commitment to increasing their competitiveness for merit-based Federal and private sector research support. Such programs frequently pay other dividends--tying together education and research and strengthening the research infrastructure within states.

We will work in partnership with universities and the private sector to modernize our research infrastructure. To stimulate private sector infrastructure investments in our educational institutions, we will both support elimination of the cap on tax-free bonds for such purposes and re-evaluate allowances for use of facilities and equipment, consistent with industrial practice. The NSTC will develop options for how to implement the Federal investment as a systematic, long-term, multi-agency, merit- reviewed program.

The NSTC, with advice from PCAST and the broader scientific community, will advise on impediments to industry investment in fundamental research and recommend policies to encourage industry investment. The Clinton Administration has supported and proposed making the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit be made permanent.

The unique assets of the Federal research enterprise will be viewed as a national resource not only for research and post-graduate education but also for enriching the full educational continuum. Federal agencies and their technical facilities will strengthen programs offering research experiences for pre-college and undergraduate college teachers and technical training and apprenticeships for the school-to-work transition and for displaced workers.

The Clinton Administration will maintain a strong commitment to Federal-state-industry partnerships for forging stronger links between the educational community and the workplace and for seeding merit-reviewed research programs across the nation as important investments in developing research capabilities and associated educational benefits.

Goal: Produce the finest scientists and engineers for the 21st century

Our principal resource for maintaining leadership in fundamental science and engineering and for capitalizing on its advances is our talent pool of well-educated scientists and engineers. They are the wellspring of new ideas and new solutions to challenging problems. American colleges and research universities are unmatched in their ability to provide advanced education and to enrich it through forefront research. This system has served the nation exceptionally well, directly coupling post-secondary and advanced education with the unique training afforded by research at the intellectual frontier. These institutions are truly national and international in character, bringing in students from across the nation and the globe, and then sending them out to teach, to do research, to start companies, to branch out into new careers with the creative energy needed to address a broad range of challenges.

Our goal is to maintain this excellence and to encourage the ongoing reexamination of advanced education in our colleges and universities. The scientifically literate society that America will need to face the challenges of the 21st century will require orientation to science early in life and frequent reinforcement. Because training scientists is a long process, we can not quickly overcome shortfalls in trained personnel in some areas and should not react precipitously in allocating our training support.

We will sustain this tradition of excellence only by engaging the talents of our diverse population. America derives great strength from its diversity, yet the country has not had a coherent policy for developing all our human resources for science and technology. Women, minorities, and those with disabilities are underrepresented in most fields of science, mathematics, and engineering with respect to their proportions in the population. Much of this underrepresentation in science starts very early in the educational process. It will be essential for the future well-being of the country, and specifically of the scientific enterprise, that we educate the twenty-first century scientific workforce by explicitly engaging participants representative of the nation's diversity.

Role models are clearly important. We must also do all that we can to encourage excellent mentoring of individuals in underrepresented groups and access to research experiences. This will be stimulated through awards to be distributed at state and local levels where the nurturing of individuals with interest and talent occurs. We will continue to sponsor research experiences for members of groups who are underrepresented in the sciences. Our Federal laboratories will continue to provide centers for such activities; however, beyond that, we ask all Federal grantees to engage creatively in the process. It is a critical investment in the future of this country.

The NSTC will produce a human resources development policy for sustaining excellence and promoting diversity in the science and technology workforce.

Every Federal agency's educational programs in science, mathematics and engineering will have, as one measure of success, its impact on increased participation by underrepresented groups.

The NSTC will develop a new program of Presidential awards for individuals and institutions that have outstanding records in mentoring students from underrepresented groups toward significant achievement in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Goal: Raise scientific and technological literacy of all Americans

We must improve the U.S. educational system to give our children an understanding and appreciation of science and the opportunity to compete successfully for high quality jobs and to lead productive lives. Our educational system is the foundation of public scientific and technical literacy. The technology-based global economy of the next century will place a high premium on science and mathematics education, on knowledge of foreign languages and cultures, on facility with technologies, and on versatility and flexibility. Our economic strength will depend more than ever on the ability of the American people to deal with new challenges and rapid change. Yet, we have known for over a decade that the education of America's children, particularly in science and mathematics, has fallen below world standards for a significant fraction of our population.

This Administration's agenda is centered on "Goals 2000: Educate America." This initiative calls for systemic reform of elementary and secondary education organized around the challenging national education goals. Demonstrated competency in mathematics and science by all students leaving grades 4, 8, and 12 is one of the key goals. All students must be prepared for responsible citizenship, ongoing learning, and productive employment in the twenty-first century economy. Responsibility for implementation lies with the states, who will develop their own comprehensive improvement plans aimed at reaching the national education standards. The Goals 2000 process will promote coherence among Federal, state, and local education programs, with Federal resources helping to provide comparable tools across the nation for addressing the educational standards. With respect to the mathematics and science goals, we emphasize the special opportunities and obligations of our scientific and technical community to help meet this critically important national challenge.

We are committed to facilitating expanded partnerships between the educational community, the private sector, and government at all levels. America's scientific and technical communities employed in colleges, universities, industry, and government represent an enormous resource for improving the science, mathematics, and technological education of our children. Our elementary and secondary school teachers are also an enormous resource and deserve our support. We need both to stimulate more research into the application of learning technologies and the practice of mathematics and science education, drawing upon the experience of outstanding teachers and successful programs, and to join the science education and research cultures symbiotically. Partnerships built around a common purpose are the key to the systemic reform needed in science and mathematics education. Only a cooperative effort by individuals and institutions will take us to our national education goals.

Our commitment cannot end with high school. The school-to-work transition and lifelong learning opportunities are increasingly important in the workplace because of rapidly evolving technology. Our Administration wishes to learn from industry and from state and local governments how Federal science and technology assets can be used most effectively for these purposes.

The lifelong responsibilities of citizenship increasingly rely on scientific and technological literacy for informed choices. Our scientific community must contribute more strongly to broad public understanding and appreciation of science. Our education system must provide the necessary intellectual tools at twenty-first century standards.

We will work with the research and educational communities to implement mathematics and science education standards to meet the needs for higher achievement, to prepare students for high quality jobs of the future, and to foster excellence in and appreciation of science.

We must involve teachers in career-long professional development where researchers work in partnership with practicing teachers to bring the excitement of research and its discoveries into the classroom.

Federal agencies will encourage research scientists to use their research experiences in support of public understanding and appreciation of science.

This Administration will encourage the development of industry-state-local government consortia and regional alliances to bring telecommunications and other information resources to elementary and secondary schools, two and four-year colleges, and universities. The National Information Infrastructure will play a central role. We must educate our children for the twenty-first century workplace in a twenty-first century setting.

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