Research and development spending in the United States has remained essentially flat over the past decade, while China and South Korea have boosted their investment 90 and 50 percent, respectively. Fifty science and research organizations, including ACE, called attention to this reality in testimony submitted to yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments.”
Testifying at the hearing were John P. Holdren, director of the administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy; Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz; Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation; and Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) set the tone in her remarks, saying, “I agree reducing the budget deficit is important, but are we being so austere that we are limiting our future growth? And as one of the greatest countries in the world, are we so preoccupied with making budget cuts that we’re heading towards an innovation deficit as well?” (See below for Mikulski's full remarks.)
In their testimony, the 50 organizations continued the advocacy outlined in their “Close the Innovation Deficit” campaign, an effort to close the widening gap between the actual level of federal government funding for research and higher education and what the investment needs to be if the United States is to remain the world’s innovation leader.
Their remarks addressed that concept and noted the flattening of U.S. funding for research, much of which takes place at the nation’s universities, was exacerbated by sequestration. The organizations noted that “a subtle shift is taking place,” and as other countries invest more in research, the best talent will leave the United States, weakening American industry, jobs, security and the economy.
The organizations conceded that the private sector and universities themselves are important funders for research, but reiterated that “industry will never replace the federal role. Only the federal government can close the innovation deficit by supporting research on the scale, scope, and time horizon necessary to maintain our edge.”
The testimony was well-received on both sides of the aisle as committee members, Republicans and Democrats, echoed the organizations’ concerns over the course of the lengthy hearing.
Follow the ongoing conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #InnovationDeficit.