Office of Planning and Budgeting

National Academies Continue to Sound Alarm Bell on Competitiveness of Research U’s

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine have sponsored an update to their consequential 2005 report entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. The latest version is called Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5, and can be read online free of charge.

The new report highlights America’s relative decline in global competitiveness by presenting statistics on patent awards, research publications, employer surveys, and student achievement levels in math and science, among other things. While recognizing current economic constraints, the report calls for major investment in and reform of K-12 education, as well as a doubling of the federal basic-research budget to help restore and maintain US competitiveness in the global economy.

One action Congress can take immediately is to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, which was passed in 2007 largely as a result of the 2005 Gathering Storm report. This Act received one-time federal stimulus funding in 2009, and is set to expire this year without Congressional action. The UW Office of Federal Relations provides regular updates on their blog regarding the Act’s progress in Congress.

In addition to this report, The National Research Council, at the request of Congress, has created the Committee on Research Universities, a panel of business and higher education leaders, to identify the “top ten actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century.”

The Committee held its inaugural meeting on September 22nd, and is scheduled to meet again in late November.

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