1. Introduction

  2. A Record of Discovery in Science and Technology

  3. Opportunities for the Ages

  4. The Role of Policy

  5. Conclusions

Every two years, the National Science Board* produces Science and Engineering Indicators, a quantitative overview of the U.S. science and technology (S&T) enterprise. Publication of Science and Engineering Indicators—2000 coincides with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950. As NSF and the National Science Board prepare to embark on their second half-century, the Board believes it is useful to reflect on the conditions that characterized U.S. science and engineering 50 years ago, on accomplishments and changes, and on directions for the future of the enterprise.

In taking stock of the impacts of science and technology, the Board is moved to comment on the role of policy in S&T - how it is shaped by data, information, and analysis. The process of making choices constitutes the heart of policymaking - determining priorities and investment levels, nurturing long-standing programs, and responding appropriately to emerging research opportunities. Any retelling of U.S. achievements in science and engineering must include policy as "organizing principles" and the arrangements for pursuing them. Together they create the prospects for discovery and application. Inevitably, S&T are among the factors tied to choices made in the strategic allocation of scarce resources.1

*The National Science Board (NSB) consists of 24 members plus the Director of the National Science Foundation. Appointed by the President, the Board serves as the governing body for NSF and provides advice to the President and the Congress on matters of national science and engineering policy.


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