Dear Colleague:

As part of our mandate from Congress, the National Science Board (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 in the form of a "companion" policy statement to the Indicators report.

The 2008 volume of Indicators reinforces the Board’s concern with declining support for U.S. research and development (R&D), especially basic research, by U.S. industry and the Federal Government. The confluence of a range of indicators raises important questions about future U.S. high technology industry’s competitiveness in international markets and implications for highly skilled jobs at home. The importance of understanding the implications of these indicators underscores the need for new metrics to guide Federal Government investment strategies for R&D to more effectively enhance international competitiveness of the U.S. in high technology.

This Board Companion Piece, Research and Development: Essential Foundation for U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Economy (NSB-08-3), examines currently available data and recommends the following.

  • The Federal Government should take action to enhance the level of funding for, and the transformational nature of, basic research.
  • Industry, government, the academic sector, and professional organizations should take action to encourage greater intellectual interchange between industry and academia, with industry researchers encouraged to also participate as authors and reviewers for articles in open, peer-reviewed publications.
  • New data are critically needed, and this need should be addressed expeditiously by relevant Federal agencies, to track the implications for the U.S. economy of the globalization of manufacturing and services in high technology industry.

We urge all Americans to support sustaining our Nation’s long-term commitment to basic research and to a strong U.S. R&D enterprise, coupling the advantages of our world leading academic research institutions with our strength in industrial science and technology. Our continued commitment is essential to our Nation’s future prosperity and security.


Steven C. Beering signature.

Steven C. Beering
National Science Board