- THE MAGAZINE
- WEB EXCLUSIVES
This report, produced every two years by the Board-the governing body for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics, is the major authoritative source of U.S. and international data on science, engineering, and technology and is packed with a wealth of indicators on research and development (R&D) spending, trends in higher education and workforce development in science and engineering (S&E) fields, public attitudes toward science and technology, and new patterns of international collaboration in research.
In a way, it’s like a report card on U.S. science, engineering, and technology, comparing U.S. performance with other nations. It also tells us where the U.S. stands and compares American S&E performance to that of other nations.
The latest edition of Indicators tells us that the state of U.S. science and engineering is strong, but that U.S. dominance of world science and engineering has eroded significantly in recent years, primarily because of rapidly increasing capabilities among East Asian nations, particularly China.
OSTP Director John P. Holdren, who also serves as President Obama’s science adviser, received the 2010 edition of Indicators on behalf of the President this week and promised to put the report’s insights to good use in the Federal Government’s policymaking. OSTP, as the lead policymaking body within the White House for matters related to science, engineering, and technology, recognizes that good science and technology policy depends on reliable, comprehensive, and useful data. Indicators is the premier source of science and technology data and will enrich this Administration’s policymaking for years to come.
As Dr. Holdren has noted repeatedly, the Obama Administration is committed to evidence-based policymaking and making data used for policymaking accessible, relevant, and timely. Indeed, the President himself has on many occasions reiterated his deep appreciation of the importance of science, engineering, and technology to finding solutions to the many challenges that today face the country, including building a prosperous and innovative U.S. economy of the future, reducing dependence on foreign energy sources while mitigating the impacts of harmful climate change, and delivering high-quality health care to every American.
The Indicators report is factual and policy-neutral. But a number of Administration policies are already taking aim at the challenges outlined in the new report.
Just last week, for example, President Obama announced a new set of public-private partnerships in the “Educate to Innovate” campaign committing more than $250 million in private resources to attract, develop, reward, and retain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers. This initiative is responsive to data, presented in Chapter 1 of Indicators, showing that American 15-year-olds are losing ground in science and math achievement compared to their peers around the world.