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Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
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2.0
Efforts to Avert the Storm

INITIAL FOLLOW-UP

The Gathering Storm report concluded that America was in substantial danger of losing its economic leadership position and suffering a concomitant decline of the standard of living of its citizens because of a looming inability to compete for jobs in the global marketplace.


In the weeks following the Gathering Storm report’s release, over one hundred editorials and op-eds appeared in the nation’s newspapers, at least one in every state, addressing the issues raised in the report. Virtually all supported the National Academies’ conclusions and joined in the call for action. President George W. Bush included many of the report’s recommendations in his 2006 State of the Union Address and in the days immediately following the address traveled extensively, speaking in part about the report’s highest priority findings—K-12 education and basic research.


Implementing-legislation with 62 co-sponsors was promptly introduced in the United States Senate. A series of hearings was held in both the House and the Senate and the “America COMPETES Act” was forwarded to the House and Senate floor with strong bipartisan support—something the Gathering Storm effort has enjoyed throughout the first five years of its existence.


During 2007, the House of Representatives, in two key actions, approved the necessary authorizing legislation by votes of 389-22 and 397-20 (two votes were taken for procedural reasons). The authorizing legislation subsequently passed the Senate by a

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

vote of 88-8. Final approval in the House of the America COMPETES authorization act was by unanimous consent following 367-57 approval of the conference report. In what perhaps might best be described as a system failure, virtually no funds to implement the Gathering Storm recommendations were included in the final version of the Fiscal 2008 Appropriations Act (although some 10,000 earmarks survived). The Gathering Storm recommendations required approximately $19 billion per year for implementation, once a transition phase was completed. Starting with the fiscal 2008 supplemental budget, funding for the relevant agencies of the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories has been on a trajectory that, if sustained, will result in a doubling by 2017. In contrast, funding of the STEM education-related recommendations lagged.


During the first two years following the release of the Gathering Storm report the principal impact of the efforts by the Academies and a wide array of interested constituencies—including the Council on Competitiveness, the Business Roundtable, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and others—was to forestall actions that would otherwise have diminished America’s competitiveness. A private-sector organization, the National Math and Science Initiative, was established based on the Gathering Storm recommendations to increase participation in Advance Placement courses in high school and to provide additional teachers qualified in mathematics and science.1

SUBSEQUENT FOLLOW-UP

Responding to the severe downturn of the economy in the fall of 2008, “stimulus legislation,” designated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, was introduced. A special hearing chaired by Speaker Nancy Pelosi was held, in part to address the long-term implications of any potential legislation. During the hearing witnesses noted that the Gathering Storm report emphasized the need for investments for the longer term—particularly in K-12 education and university research. Legislation that was eventually approved provided funding to implement many of the report’s recommendations. President Obama, who had previously endorsed improvements to the nation’s K-12 education system and the addition of funds for science, including a major increase in funding at the National Institutes of Health, signed ARRA on February 17, 2009.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

This, together with other legislation that was enacted, increased total federal support for all aspects of K-12 education by a projected $59 billion between 2009 and 2010, provided scholarships for a number of future mathematics and science teachers and provided funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) patterned after the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.2 Processing of student visas was improved, reducing the delays and uncertainties that resulted from post-9/11 changes; however, this continues to be a deterrent to many talented foreign students and professionals.

OVERALL STATUS OF FOLLOW-UP

Table 2-1, derived from an assessment conducted by the Congressional Research Service, summarizes recent Congressional actions, or lack thereof, in response to each of the National Academies’ recommendations and implementing actions in Rising Above the Gathering Storm.


Today, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, intended as a one-time action, is nearing expiration. Without new actions the precipitous reduction in efforts that were being funded by that mechanism will be very damaging to America’s future ability to compete for jobs in the global marketplace. Similarly, authorization for the America COMPETES Act requires renewal this year as it too is scheduled to expire.


Thus, the Gathering Storm effort as viewed in the middle of 2010, although still enjoying strong support in the White House and in both parties in the Congress, finds itself at a tipping point. The issue at stake is whether funding to help assure that Americans can compete for quality jobs will be provided on a sustained basis. The budgetary pressures now faced by the nation make such investments extremely difficult; however, if not made the future consequences in terms of unemployment and related costs will likely be immense. In the judgment of the National Academies Gathering Storm committee, failure to support a strong competitiveness program will have dire consequences for the nation as a whole as well as for its individual citizens.

2

Regarding increased K-12 education spending, based on a total of $38.8 billion in federal K-12 spending in 2008, and a projected $137.1 billion for 2009 and 2010 combined. See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/hist09z9.xls.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

SUMMARY

The two highest priority actions for the nation, in the view of the Gathering Storm committee, are to provide teachers in every classroom qualified to teach the subject they teach and to double the federal investment in research—the latter of which would be competitively awarded and largely conducted by the nation’s research universities as opposed to government facilities.


Overall, the steps recently taken to strengthen the nation’s basic research program have been substantial—albeit tenuous because of the one-time funding mechanism employed. Some steps taken to enhance K-12 education have been noteworthy as well, but in terms of actual implementation have fallen far short of the Gathering Storm committee’s recommendations. Similarly, such actions as increasing the granting of H-1B visas; making the R&D tax credit permanent; changing intellectual property laws; modernizing export control policies; and assuring that qualified math and science teachers are available to every student, have languished.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

TABLE 2-1 Implementation Status of Recommendations from Rising Above the Gathering Storm

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

Recommendation A: Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K–12 science and mathematics education.

Action A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10 million minds.

A-1-1. Provide merit-based, 4-year scholarships of up to $20,000 per year to students who commit to 5 years of teaching after obtaining bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields and concurrent certification as K-12 science and mathematics teachers.

About $225 million appropriated for Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program at NSF over FY 2008-2010 ($10,000 stipends to juniors/seniors).

A-1-2. Award matching grants of $1 million a year for up to 5 years for universities to establish integrated 4-year undergraduate programs leading to bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields with a teacher certification.

Over $450 million authorized, about $3 million appropriated for Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow program over FY 2008-2010.

Action A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes, in master’s programs, and in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs.

A-2-1. Provide matching grants to 1- to 2-week summer institutes to upgrade the skills of as many as 50,000 practicing teachers each summer.

Appropriated funds not specified (no line item). Obama Administration argues that this corresponds to DOE Academies Creating Teacher Scientists program.

A-2-2. Provide grants to universities to offer, over 5 years, 50,000 current middle and high school STEM teachers part-time master’s degree programs.

$375 million authorized, about $3 million appropriated over FY 2008-2010.

A-2-3. Train an additional 70,000 AP or IB and 80,000 pre-AP or pre-IB instructors to teach advanced courses in STEM fields.

$45.8 million appropriated in FY 2010 for high-need schools.

A-2-4. Convene a national panel to develop rigorous K-12 materials as a voluntary national curriculum.

The Department of Education established a related panel in 2008 that met and commissioned several papers on undergraduate STEM education

Action A-3: Enlarge the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, or mathematics by increasing the number of students who pass AP and IB science and mathematics courses.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

A-3-1. Increase the number of students who take AP or IB STEM courses to 1.5 million, and triple the number who pass to 700,000. Student incentives to include 50% exam fee rebates and $100 mini-scholarships for each passing score on AP/IB science or mathematics exams.

$45.8 million appropriated in FY2010 for reimbursing low-income students in high-need schools for AP/IB test fees.

Other actions: Specialty STEM high schools, summer internships for middle and high school students

About $89 million authorized, but funds not appropriated or not specified.

Recommendation B: Sustain and strengthen the nation’s traditional commitment to long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformational to maintain the flow of new ideas that fuel the economy, provide security, and enhance the quality of life.

Action B-1: Increase the federal investment in long-term basic research by 10% each year over the next 7 years, with special attention to the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and information sciences and to Department of Defense (DOD) basic-research funding.

Authorization and appropriation levels over FY 2008-2010 largely reflect this recommendation for NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science.

Action B-2: Provide new research grants of $500,000 each annually, payable over 5 years, to 200 of the nation’s most outstanding early-career researchers.

About $75 million authorized for DOE, appropriated funds not specified; about $550 million authorized, $700 million appropriated to NSF in the FY2009 Omnibus and ARRA.

Action B-3: Institute a National Coordination Office for Advanced Research Instrumentation and Facilities to manage a fund of $500 million in incremental funds per year over the next 5 years.

OSTP states that ARRA provides funding for research infrastructure that addresses some of these concerns. OSTP has also been directed in legislation to identify deficiencies in federal research facilities and coordinate responses.

Action B-4: Allocate at least 8% of the budgets of federal research agencies to discretionary funding of high-risk, high-payoff research.

America COMPETES contains “sense of the Congress” language encouraging agencies to allocate a portion of basic research funding to transformative projects.

Action B-5: Create an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) with initial annual funding of $300 million, increasing to $1 billion over 5-6 years.

$415 million appropriated in the FY2009 Omnibus and ARRA.

Action B-6: Institute a Presidential Innovation Award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest.

The existing “National Medal of Technology” has been renamed the “National Mecal of Technology and Innovation”.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

Recommendation C: Make the United States the most attractive setting in which to study and perform research so that we can develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers from within the United States and throughout the world.

Action C-1: Increase the number and proportion of U.S. citizens who earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields by providing 25,000 new 4-year competitive undergraduate scholarships each year to be distributed to states on the basis of the size of their congressional delegations and awarded via national examinations.

About $350 million authorized and $130 million appropriated to NSF over FY2009-2010 for related programs, such as the STEM Talent Expansion Program and the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.

Action C-2: Increase the number of U.S. citizens pursuing graduate study in “areas of national need” by funding 5,000 new graduate fellowships each year through NSF, with annual stipend levels of $30,000, plus $20,000 for tuition and fees.

About $640 million authorized and $475 million appropriated over FY 2009-2010 (including ARRA) to NSF for existing programs such as Graduate Research Fellowships, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships, and Protecting America’s Competitive Edge Graduate Fellowships.

Action C-3: Provide a federal tax credit to encourage employers to make continuing education available (either internally or through colleges and universities) to practicing scientists and engineers.

Not acted on.

Action C-4: Continue to improve visa processing for international students and scholars.

Not addressed by Congress, but various sources report that the Department of State has made significant progress in streamlining security screening.

Action C-5: Provide a 1-year automatic visa extension to international students who receive doctorates or the equivalent in STEM fields at qualified U.S. institutions, and provide them with automatic work permits if they are offered employment by a U.S.-based employer and pass a security screening test.

By regulation, the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the optional practical training period for F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from 12 to 29 months, and amended regulations to allow for automatic extensions of status and employment authorizations for F-1 students with pending H-1B applications.

Action C-6: Institute a new skills-based, preferential immigration option giving persons with doctoral-level education and science and engineering skills priority in obtaining U.S. citizenship. Increase the number of H1-B visas for applicants with doctorates from U.S. universities by 10,000.

Prior legislation exempts up to 20,000 aliens holding a master’s or higher degree from the annual cap on H1-B visas.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

Action C-7: Reform the current system of “deemed exports,” giving international students and researchers engaged in fundamental research in the United States with access to United States research equipment and information that is comparable to that provided to U.S. citizens.

Not acted on.

Recommendation D: Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world to innovate; invest in downstream activities such as manufacturing and marketing; and create high-paying jobs based on innovation by such actions as modernizing the patent system, realigning tax policies to encourage innovation, and ensuring affordable broadband access.

Action D-1: Enhance intellectual-property protection for the 21st-century global economy to ensure that systems for protecting patents and other forms of intellectual property underlie the emerging knowledge economy but allow research to enhance innovation.

D-1-1. Provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with sufficient resources to make intellectual-property protection more timely, predictable, and effective.

Since 2005, various appropriations acts have provided the United States Patent and Trademark Office with budget authority to spend all fees collected, effectively providing additional resources to this agency.

D-1-2. Reconfigure the U.S. patent system by switching to a “first-inventor-to-file” system and by instituting administrative review after a patent is granted.

Legislation has been introduced to implement “first-to-file,” but has not been passed and signed into law.

D-1-3. Shield research uses of patented inventions from infringement liability.

Not acted on.

D-1-4. Change intellectual-property laws that act as barriers to innovation in specific industries, such as those related to data exclusivity (in pharmaceuticals) and those that increase the volume and unpredictability of litigation (especially in information-technology industries).

Various bills, including one passed by the House and one passed by the Senate, would address data exclusivity.

Action D-2: Enact a stronger research and development tax credit to encourage private investment.

Several measures have been passed to bolster the incentive in recent years, and others are under consideration.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

Action D-3: Provide tax incentives for U.S.-based innovation. The Council of Economic Advisers and the Congressional Budget Office should conduct a comprehensive analysis to examine how the United States compares with other nations as a location for innovation.

Not acted on.

Action D-4: Ensure ubiquitous broadband Internet access through spectrum management and regulation.

In 2009, Congress appropriated $7.2 billion (ARRA) for broadband improvement programs. Additional programs and legislation are under consideration.

SOURCE: Adapted from Congressional Research Service, Selected Congressional Actions Related to Recommendations in the 2007 National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm Report, Memo to Senator Jeff Bingaman, February 26, 2010.

NOTE: Appendixes E and F of the original Gathering Storm report provide cost estimates for implementing the recommendations. Making a specific assessment of Congressional actions and executive branch implementation against the recommendations would require additional information and analysis. This adaptation is not intended to be comprehensive.

Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
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Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 25
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 26
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 27
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 28
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 29
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 30
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"2.0 Efforts to Avert the Storm." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2010. Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12999.
×
Page 32
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In the face of so many daunting near-term challenges, U.S. government and industry are letting the crucial strategic issues of U.S. competitiveness slip below the surface. Five years ago, the National Academies prepared Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a book that cautioned: "Without a renewed effort to bolster the foundations of our competitiveness, we can expect to lose our privileged position." Since that time we find ourselves in a country where much has changed—and a great deal has not changed.

So where does America stand relative to its position of five years ago when the Gathering Storm book was prepared? The unanimous view of the authors is that our nation's outlook has worsened. The present volume, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited, explores the tipping point America now faces. Addressing America's competitiveness challenge will require many years if not decades; however, the requisite federal funding of much of that effort is about to terminate.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited provides a snapshot of the work of the government and the private sector in the past five years, analyzing how the original recommendations have or have not been acted upon, what consequences this may have on future competitiveness, and priorities going forward. In addition, readers will find a series of thought- and discussion-provoking factoids—many of them alarming—about the state of science and innovation in America.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited is a wake-up call. To reverse the foreboding outlook will require a sustained commitment by both individual citizens and government officials—at all levels. This book, together with the original Gathering Storm volume, provides the roadmap to meet that goal. While this book is essential for policy makers, anyone concerned with the future of innovation, competitiveness, and the standard of living in the United States will find this book an ideal tool for engaging their government representatives, peers, and community about this momentous issue.

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