Administration Report on "Science for the 21st Century"

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Publication date: 
21 October 2004

The National Science and Technology Council has released a 40-page document entitled "Science for the 21st Century." The report, released this summer, provides an overview of the Bush Administration's perspective on the federal science enterprise, its major responsibilities, and illustrative programs.

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) was established by executive order during President Bill Clinton's first year in office. Both the Bush and Clinton Administrations describe the council as a "virtual" cabinet-level coordinating agency for federal science and technology programs. The NSTC has produced various reports, such as the recent "The Physics of the Universe: A Strategic Plan for Federal Research at the Intersection of Physics and Astronomy" (see ).

In an accompanying cover letter, OSTP Director John Marburger explained that "This report presents the critical responsibilities of our Federal science enterprise and the actions taken by the Federal research agencies, through the National Science and Technology Council, to align our programs with scientific opportunity and with national needs." There is precedent for this type of document, an example being a report released by the Clinton administration in 1996 with somewhat similar overarching goals (see ).

The new report explains in a way that will be easily understood by a lay audience the Bush Administration's general science policy and examples of how this policy is implemented. It begins by making the case for federal investment in R&D, outlines the desirability of interdisciplinary research and collaboration, describes the need for excellence in S&T education and the workforce, and discusses management accountability. Under the title, "Science in This Administration," the report states: "This Administration has, as a first priority, responded to the urgent need to combat terrorism and safeguard homeland and national security. Second, together with security we must ensure continued economic growth, both in the short term and in setting the stage for innovations and technologies that will ensure our nation's future growth and prosperity. We must also take steps to maintain and increase the quality of American life - sufficient, affordable health care; affordable and abundant supplies of energy; and a healthy environment now and into the future."

Four major responsibilities - promoting discovery, responding to national challenges, developing technologies, and education/workforce development - are identified as the four major responsibilities of the Federal science enterprise. Six- to eight-page chapters with brief science program descriptions comprise the remainder of the report, which concludes with a chapter entitled "A Shared Vision." It states, "Science has always been a national priority. The Federal research enterprise has enjoyed non-partisan support since the Second World War, and the benefits of this scientific research are well recognized." Information on the report is at