Office of Science and Technology Policy
New Report Details Indispensable
Federal R&D Investments
Today we are announcing the release of a report entitled, Discovery and Innovation: Federal Research and Development Activities in the Fifty States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. RAND's Science and Technology Policy Institute, at our request, has prepared the most comprehensive and detailed information to date on the nature, magnitude, and location of the individual activities that comprise the Federal government's research and development (R&D) portfolio.
Wherever we turn in our daily lives, we constantly encounter reminders of the contributions of science and technology. But we should remember that much of what we now take for granted as gifts from science and technology could not have been foreseen decades earlier, and would not have been available without vigilance in R&D funding.
If we are to continue to enjoy beneficial breakthroughs from scientists and researchers, we must make sure that we continue to fund essential R&D activities across a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. Only by supporting research where the returns are not guaranteed can we ensure the steady, gradual progress that underpins front-page news stories that accompany each new success. Taking a risk on open-ended research, whose cost-effectiveness is often difficult to guarantee, sometimes generates the greatest economic returns. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan expressed this very point last summer when he said, The evidence for a technology-driven rise in the prospective rate of return on new capital, and an associated acceleration in labor productivity, is compelling, if not conclusive.
This new report puts a human face on our vast and vibrant R&D enterprise that touches every state from the Department of the Interior's laboratory in Orono, Maine to the Energy Department's laboratories near California's San Francisco Bay and includes the many individual investigators at universities, research centers, and high-tech companies in between.
For the first time, there is far greater
clarity of how and where Federal research activities connect with the average
American. It identifies the individual laboratories, R&D centers,
universities, and companies where our scientists and engineers actually create
new knowledge and develop innovative new technologies, supported in part by
I want all of us, as taxpayers, to see how profoundly important these research investments on the scientific frontiers are for us, our children, and our grandchildren. Every American should take great pride in our brilliant and innovative scientists and engineers in every corner of this great Nation who are expanding our scientific knowledge, bringing new products from the lab bench into the daily lives of millions of Americans, and helping to train the next generation of inventors and innovators. As this new century opens with unprecedented prospects and opportunity, their work continues to enrich our lives and brings us to the threshold of new scientific voyages of discovery that promise unimaginable benefits to come.
When science and technology leaders from other countries visit me in the White House, they invariably marvel at the breadth and depth of our unparalleled scientific enterprise, and then ask, How do you do it? Our competitive advantage includes our well-coordinated interagency initiatives, and the fact that the Administration has enthusiastically encouraged and supported research partnerships of all types. Our collaborations have combined the resources of industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and all levels of government to advance knowledge, promote education, strengthen institutions, and develop human resources. Additionally, the President and Vice President, from the very outset, made it their policy, even in times of fiscal restraint, to protect Federal investments in basic research across all major scientific fields. Furthermore, as this report clearly documents, the Federal laboratories are deeply integrated into America's fundamental science and technology enterprise in their mission areas.
Although U.S. technological innovations may seem to unfold naturally, they don't just happen; we have to invest in the people at the frontiers to make them happen. So it is particularly disappointing that shortsighted Congressional budget resolutions could well translate into double-digit cuts for many of these vitally important R&D programs and stall our progress toward national goals precisely at the moment in history when we can best afford to invest in America's future. It is a supreme irony that many in Congress who propose such flawed budgets threaten to undermine and shortchange the very R&D investments they publicly embrace. Instead of slashing science and technology, we should accelerate the march of human knowledge by greatly increasing our investments in R&D.
In the days ahead, Congress has the
opportunity to do an about-face and demonstrate the strong bipartisan support
for R&D that the American people expect and deserve, as one of the clearest
high-return investments in America's future.
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