Science and Technology
Outlook and Report '95


This Nation's future depends on strong public and private support for science and technology. My Administration's decision to make sound investments in science and technology even as the federal government cuts other spending is premised on three basic assumptions:

The Congress and the American people can find evidence of the Administration's dedication to responsible government support for science and technology in our defense and economic policies as well as our management of the science and technology enterprise. We have decreased the federal deficit, helped to create millions of new jobs, and improved the tax treatment of small businesses and of investments in research and development. Hemispheric and global trade agreements as well as relaxation of outdated export controls have opened huge export markets to America's high-tech industries. My National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement (February 1995) depends on farsighted and efficient science and technology investments. Our foreign policy and security interests are also supported by mutually beneficial international cooperation in science and technology.

We have consistently endorsed technology policies to increase prosperity and enhance environmental quality. In Technology for America's Economic Growth (February 1993) and Technology for a Sustainable Future (July 1994) this Administration conveyed to the American people our plans for public/private partnerships to improve the business environment, enhance access to quality education and training, support development of information infrastructure, ensure continued excellence in health care, and strengthen America's global competitiveness.

Streamlined government based on strong partnerships -- within the government, with the private sector, and among nations -- is a hallmark of the Clinton/Gore Administration. The "virtual department" I created by establishing the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has cut bureaucratic red tape and produced a historic first: an integrated research and development budget that focuses on national goals. The NSTC has also produced large savings by enabling agencies to coordinate their efforts, divide tasks, and share resources.

My Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) provides critical links to industry and academia. Their oversight of NSTC activities, such as development of strategies for the management and disposition of fissile materials, promises to improve the federal effort. So, too, do the forums and workshops that have drawn in thousands of experts and stakeholders to help develop priorities in areas as diverse as fundamental science, environmental technology, and health, safety, and food research.

I am also very proud of the steps we have taken to improve international cooperation in science and technology. Through the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission we have used science and technology cooperation to ease the Russians' transition to democracy and a market economy. We have received valuable new technology and cultivated a crucial partner in global affairs through Russian participation in the international space station. We have used the Megasciences Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other international forums to explore ways to share the increasing costs of cutting-edge research while maintaining our position of world leadership. Bilateral science and technology cooperation with other nations, including advanced industrial economies such as Japan, and big, emerging markets such as the People's Republic of China, serve us well in the global economy -- giving us access to new ideas and new technologies while creating new opportunities for business.

Economists have estimated that the social rate of return on investments in research and development averages about 50 percent, or about double the average private rate of return. Clearly a solid federal investment program is justified even in the leanest times. It is especially important for the federal government to maintain its investments in science and technology when the pressures of international competition are leading businesses to focus on shorter term payoffs at the expense of more basic, longer term, and riskier research and development.

In Science in the National Interest (August 1994), the Vice President and I reaffirmed our longstanding commitment to world leadership in science, mathematics, and engineering. Scientific discoveries inspire and enrich us. Equally important, science and mathematics education provides all Americans with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare for and adapt to the high-technology jobs of the future and to exercise the responsibilities of citizenship.

This Administration has articulated clear goals and established priorities for federal spending, and our economic policies have improved the climate for private investment as well. We intend to work closely with Congress to ensure the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren. These investments will prepare us for the challenges of the 21st Century.