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ITIF Report Proposes Federal Research Focus on Productivity

ITIF Report Proposes Federal Research Focus on Productivity

On September 12, 2019, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held an expert panel discussion on a new study that argues for federal research programs to focus on growing the economy by supporting the development of technologies that would enhance productivity growth. The new report, prepared in collaboration with a Concord Coalition project on fiscal responsibility and economic growth, recommends that Congress and the Trump administration devote significantly more direct and indirect funding to research and development that explicitly focuses on developing technologies that will boost productivity.
The report’s rollout panel session included commentary from: ITIF President Robert Atkinson; Jeff Patterson, Chief Operating Officer of ASME; Marcus Peacock, the Chief Operating Officer of the Business Roundtable; Celia Merzbacher, Associate Director of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) for SRI International; and Gilroy Vandentop, Director of Corporate University Research at Intel Labs.
“In the shadow of budget deficits that loom larger every year, boosting productivity is a critical and largely overlooked way to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio,” said Atkinson, author of the report. “Technological innovation is key to boosting productivity, so Congress and the administration should significantly increase federal investments in R&D that is strategically targeted to technologies that will increase productivity growth rates.” There is currently no dedicated allocation of federal funding for research specifically to support innovations that would boost productivity. To fill this void, the report calls for adding productivity to the current federal R&D missions, which now include, among other areas, defense, energy, and health.
Jeff Patterson, Chief Operating Officer of ASME, noted that in addition to boosting productivity, many emerging technologies provide other benefits that support other national policy objectives, such as enhancing public health and safety outcomes. For example, new inspection technologies such as unmanned autonomous vehicles, can prevent workplace accidents and perform inspections safely and efficiently. The panelists concluded with a discussion on how to address concerns about how workers will be impacted by productivity gains, where Patterson noted that even workers with advanced training may need to be retrained many times throughout their careers.
To view an archived video of the report’s rollout event and read the full report, visit:

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