S&T Strategic Plans: The Obama Plan

I’m impressed.  George W. Bush made it though eight years without developing an S&T strategic plan worthy of the name.  In less than ten months from taking office, the Obama Administration has already developed a plan.  I think it still lacks some essential elements, but it is a good start. Richard M. Jones at the AIP has made an excellent summary, so I won’t try to upstage him.

http://www.aip.org/fyi/2009/122.html

I think the key goal of 3% of GDP for R&D investment is very constructive, but its implementation needs a lot of attention, including legislation. Otherwise, it is likely to flop, as did the same goal set by the EU. The private sector now supplies well over 2/3 of this R&D investment. Now that they are outsourcing R&D to cheaper places, private industry is not likely to step up their investments in the US unless they have financial incentives to do so.  Appeals to the US patriotism of global corporations are not likely to have much effect, indeed all corporations have eternal life, but no soul.

I have another issue with the plan.  In focusing entirely on the economic development benefits of R&D, I think it forfeits the most powerful argument to convince the Congress and public to implement the plan–national security.  It does give the DARPA invention of the Internet as a golden nugget in a sidebar, but that’s the only mention of defense that I saw.  And this is not just neglect in this plan; defense R&D is declining sharply as immediate needs to fight wars force cuts in long range investments at DOD.  The Obama Administration also seems to be shifting priorities from defense R&D to non-defense.  I’m dubious about this because of the unprecedented threats we face from emerging superpowers, nuclear proliferation, and non-state actors.

The full plan is at:

A Strategy for American Innovation

R. D. Shelton

2 comments on this post.
  1. Mike DeHaemer:

    I hope the plan is real and works.

  2. DevinWeiss:

    Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” features a appealing title. It has a taste of bravery mixed with full confidence. There is nothing Pollyanna regarding this. I may not support almost everything he says, but he’s our president, and then for me, he creates trust. Which will do more for any country than any number of backroom deals. Hope gives us energy, and energy sustains us through trying times. Boy, we’ve had them. I’m from West Texas, and I did not vote for Bush. When McCain ran against Obama, I used to be a citizen of Arizona, but I gave audacious hope a chance. The fight for progress and laying the foundations of prosperity isn’t over. I have seen the quips of those that don’t believe Obama is capable of it. But step back a moment. Would anyone have most of us fail only to tarnish the star of an incumbent for whom they did not vote? Keeping our priorities straight, let’s work together with our president and build our future.

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