Statement on President Bush's "American Competitiveness Initiative"
Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences
Wm. A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering
Harvey V. Fineberg, President, Institute of Medicine

Feb. 1, 2006

We applaud President Bush's announcement of the American Competitiveness Initiative in his State of the Union address. This initiative is an important step in what we hope will be a multiyear bipartisan commitment to enhance the nation's innovation system -- a system that can create jobs for all Americans in today's knowledge-based economy. Actions such as those proposed by President Bush and in Congress to increase federal funding for basic research -- including energy science and technology, improve K-12 math and science education, and enhance the climate for private investment in research and development are necessary to preserve America's high standard of living and its national and economic security.

In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor readily available, U.S. science and technology advantages have been steadily eroding. The Academies' recent report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future points toward solutions and helped to inform President Bush's initiative. The report emphasizes an integrated package of recommendations to create new, high-quality jobs for all citizens by developing new industries based on new technologies. Our report reinforces similar recommendations that other responsible groups have advanced in recent years.

We appreciate the hard work by the committee of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine that produced the report under the chairmanship of Norman Augustine, and we are gratified that the Bush administration and a bipartisan alliance of congressional leaders have embraced many of our study's findings. We believe that implementing the entire package of recommendations in the report, including support for higher education, is crucial to ensuring America's competitiveness in the 21st century. We support the president's call to action.

The challenges America faces do not lend themselves to overnight fixes or simple answers. Achieving these goals will require a long-term, bipartisan commitment from a broad range of people working together -- including scientists, engineers, health professionals, educators, politicians, and industry leaders. We stand ready to offer policymakers our help as the country tackles these complex issues.