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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

America Must Renew Its Commitment to Scientific Inquiry

microscope and chemical tubes

Credit: Getty Images

John R. Dearie is president of the Center for American Entrepreneurship.

For eighty years, research and scientific advancement funded by the U.S. government has been a critical source of America's global leadership in technology and innovation. Federal R&D investment has supported large-scale national achievements, and has fueled the development of advanced technologies that spawned new industries like digital computing, telecommunications, and, most recently, genome-based pharmaceuticals.

In recent decades, however, the federal government's commitment to research and development has waned dramatically. R&D outlays grew at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent between 1953 and 1985, then fell to an average annual rate of just 0.4 percent between 1990 and 2016. By the mid-1990s, federal R&D investment had fallen below 1 percent of GDP, where it has remained ever since.

To preserve its global leadership position and accelerate post-Covid economic growth and job creation, America must renew its commitment to research and scientific inquiry.

From The Hill
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