Long before the current economic crisis, the Academies warned that global competition and a decline in the quality of science and math education at home have been chipping away at the nation's standing for scientific and technological excellence. In 2005, their study Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future called for action to strengthen the science and technology enterprise in our country. The report formed the basis for the America COMPETES Act. Signed into law in 2007, the act created a blueprint for doubling funding for basic research, improving the teaching of math and science, and taking other steps to make the U.S. more competitive, but the initiatives were not funded until 2009.
In the meantime, an update -- Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 -- warned that America’s ability to compete for quality jobs in the global economy has continued to deteriorate in the five years since the first report was released. Sustained investment in education and basic research is needed to spur innovation and keep the nation’s competitive position from slipping further.
President Obama signed legislation reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act in early 2011. The act aims to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness by setting funding guidelines that increase federal support for science education and basic research including studies of cutting-edge energy technologies.