Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel
  • Legal-judicial system (business integrity, property rights, contract sanctity, patent protection).

  • Current and potential growth of domestic market.

  • Attractiveness as place to live for employees.

  • Effectiveness of national economic system.

Although the US economy is doing well today, current trends in each of those criteria indicate that the United States may not fare as well in the future without government intervention. This nation must prepare with great urgency to preserve its strategic and economic security. Because other nations have, and probably will continue to have, the competitive advantage of a low wage structure, the United States must compete by optimizing its knowledge-based resources, particularly in science and technology, and by sustaining the most fertile environment for new and revitalized industries and the well-paying jobs they bring. We have already seen that capital, factories, and laboratories readily move wherever they are thought to have the greatest promise of return to investors.


The committee reviewed hundreds of detailed suggestions—including various calls for novel and untested mechanisms—from other committees, from its focus groups, and from its own members. The challenge is immense, and the actions needed to respond are immense as well.

The committee identified two key challenges that are tightly coupled to scientific and engineering prowess: creating high-quality jobs for Americans, and responding to the nation’s need for clean, affordable, and reliable energy. To address those challenges, the committee structured its ideas according to four basic recommendations that focus on the human, financial, and knowledge capital necessary for US prosperity.

The four recommendations focus on actions in K–12 education (10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds), research (Sowing the Seeds), higher education (Best and Brightest), and economic policy (Incentives for Innovation) that are set forth in the following sections. Also provided are a total of 20 implementation steps for reaching the goals set forth in the recommendations.

Some actions involve changes in the law. Others require financial support that would come from reallocation of existing funds or, if necessary, from new funds. Overall, the committee believes that the investments are modest relative to the magnitude of the return the nation can expect in the creation of new high-quality jobs and in responding to its energy needs.

The committee notes that the nation is unlikely to receive some sudden “wakeup” call; rather, the problem is one that is likely to evidence itself gradually over a surprisingly short period.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement