The Competitiveness
and Innovative Capacity
of the United States

Commerce Department Report On Competitiveness and Innovation Highlights U.S. Commitment to Education, Infrastructure and Cutting-Edge Technology

A report unveiled in January by Commerce Secretary John Bryson entitled, “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States,” focuses on the need for the nation to continue to support the three pillars of innovation and competitiveness: basic research; education; and, infrastructure. The report was mandated by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act which was signed into law one year ago. While the legislation was aimed at a gradual doubling of the research budgets of key science and engineering federal research agencies by 2017, tight budgets since 2010 have left the country far off track for meeting the long-term funding goals of COMPETES.

The report concluded that “common to all three pillars—research, education, and infrastructure—is that there are areas where government has made, and should continue to make, significant investments. For a variety of reasons, the private sector under-invests in these areas so the government needs to step in to bring investment up to the socially optimal levels. An additional common thread between these three pillars is that the benefits of these investments took years to be fully realized. This long-term outlook should not be forgotten.”

“There are clear actions that can help this nation regain its innovative and competitive footing. To succeed, we must have the will to implement and to sustain the policies that will prepare the United States to continue to be an economic leader in the 21st century,” including the following:

  • Continue to support government funding for basic research;
  • Enhance and extend the R&D tax credit;
  • Speed the movement of ideas from basic science labs to commercial application;
  • Address STEM shortcomings;
  • Increase spectrum for wireless communications;
  • Increase access to data to help spur innovation;
  • Coordinate Federal support for manufacturing;
  • Continue and strengthen efforts to foster regional clusters and entrepreneurship;
  • Promote America’s exports and improve access to foreign markets; and,
  • Ensure that the conditions exist in which private enterprise can thrive.

View webcast of Secretary Bryson’s presentation of the report before the January 6th meeting of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Read White House Blog posting discussing the report.

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development issues for ASME.