large corporate R&D laboratories reduced their commitment to high-risk, long-term research in favor of short-term R&D work, often conducted in overseas laboratories close to their manufacturing plants and to potential markets for their products. The payoff for the US economy from the old corporate R&D system was huge. Today, that work is difficult for business to justify: Its profitability is best measured in hindsight, after many years of sustained investment, and the probability for the success of any single research project often is small.
Nonetheless, it was that type of corporate research which provided the disruptive technologies and technical leaps that fueled US economic leadership in the 20th century. If properly managed and adequately funded, the large multidisciplinary DOE laboratories could assist in filling the void left by the shift in corporate R&D emphasis. The result would be a stable, world-class science and engineering workforce focused both on high-risk, long-term basic research and on applied research for technology development. The national laboratories now offer the right mix of basic scientific inquiry and practical application. They often promote collaboration with research universities and with large teams of applied scientists and engineers, and the enterprise has demonstrated an early ability to translate pro-