National Academies Warn Again about Nation's S&T Competitive Position

National Academies Warn Again about Nation's S&T Competitive Position

Few reports from the National Academies have had as much impact as the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.” A clarion call to the country about the waning U.S. ability to compete globally because of inadequate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and federal funding for basic research, the report catalyzed action from both the White House and Congress. Today the National Academies released a report assessing what has happened in the intervening 5 years.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 concludes that America’s ability to compete has deteriorated since the original report was released, according to a press release. Progress in the United States due to the 2007 America COMPETES Act, which authorized solutions to some of the recommendations of the original report and is now awaiting reauthorization in Congress, was more than matched by progress in other countries, the study committee found. Acknowledging the difficulty of doubling government basic research budgets, as recommended in the original report, during the current economic downturn, the report nonetheless cautions that “such investments will need to be made if the nation is to maintain the economic strength to provide health care, social security, national security, and other basic services to its citizens.”

The National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, along with the National Research Council, comprise the National Academies. The study was funded by the Academies. Unfortunately one must pay to get even a PDF copy of the full report, but a PDF of the executive summary can be downloaded for free.

NASA was omitted from the original report to the consternation of space program advocates who point out that NASA is very much involved in basic research and STEM education. There is no mention of NASA in the executive summary of the new report either.

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