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Vest, committee urge federal science push

A report released yesterday by the National Academies concludes that "a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and preeminence" in science and technology.

The congressionally requested report was written by a 20-member committee that included former MIT President Charles M. Vest, CEOs, Nobel Prize-winners and former presidential appointees.

The report cites several reasons why action is needed, including the relatively high cost of hiring American scientists. "For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India."

Another reason cited is that in 2001, U.S. industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development.

The committee's recommendations center on attracting exceptional students to math and science teaching careers and investing more in basic research.

The full report is available online through the National Academies.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 19, 2005 (download PDF).

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