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Letter of Transmittal

Dear Colleague:

As part of our mandate from Congress, the National Science Board oversees the collection of a very broad set of quantitative information about U.S. science, engineering and technology, and every 2 years publishes the data and trends in our Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators) report. On occasion, the data reveal trends that raise important policy concerns that the Board believes should be brought to the attention of the President, Congress, and the public as a "companion" policy statement to the Indicators report.

Data presented in Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 (NSB-10-01) illuminate trends and directions in global science and technology. The U.S. has long been a world leader in S&E research and high-technology industry, but comparative international data in Indicators 2010 underscore the sometimes rapidly growing competitiveness of other economies in these important areas. While increased global S&E research capacity holds great promise for the advancement of scientific knowledge and collaboration in science and engineering across international borders, the U.S. government must be attentive to developments in S&E capacity around the world, and take proactive steps to maintain our nation's competitive strength. In its Companion Piece to Indicators 2010, Globalization of Science and Engineering Research (NSB-10-03), the Board examines currently available data and trends and recommends the following Federal actions:

  • To ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in S&E research, the National Science Foundation—the only non-mission-oriented Federal agency that funds S&E research—should assess its two merit review criteria for funding of S&E research to ensure that the criteria encourage the proposing and support of truly transformative research, and should modify the criteria and/or merit review process if the assessment finds modifications necessary to accomplish this goal.
  • The Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, through the National Science and Technology Council mechanism, should engage all Federal agencies involved with S&E research to: (a) develop means to assess or continue to assess the quality of their agency's supported research against international activities, and (b) identify and as appropriate make adjustments necessary to ensure that their agency's research is world-leading.
  • The Office of Science and Technology Policy should call for a President's Council on Innovation and Competitiveness as described in the COMPETES Act. Issues for discussion would include: (a) relationships between U.S. and foreign-supported R&D to ensure continued vitality and growth of U.S. technical strength, (b) safeguarding national interests in intellectual property, (c) ensuring that the U.S. economy benefits from R&D supported abroad, and (d) assessing critical research areas for which the U.S. should be the global R&D leader.

We urge Federal attention and action to sustain U.S. world leadership in S&E research in response to growing S&E capacity around the world. Our nation's future prosperity and security depend on strong and unwavering Federal commitment to this goal.


Steven C. Beering


Globalization of Science and Engineering Research   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-03) | January 2010