One of the House bills would almost match the Senate NSF funding authorization, and both would establish and authorize funding for a new leadership within the agency designed to lead research into critical technologies and solutions to climate change and other problems. Experts say the increase in NSF funding could be a game-changer.
“Federal funding for research and development, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is actually lower today than it was before Sputnik,” said Stephen Ezell, vice president of global innovation policy at the Information Technology Innovation Foundation. “Compared to our own historical standards, we are simply underinvesting. “
Ezell said the bills would go “a very long way” to bring the United States on par with China, but money is only part of the reason. A myriad of policy changes in the bills, especially in the areas of science and technology education and government cooperation with academic institutions and the private sector, could dramatically improve the R&D “ecosystem” .
“We need to create these mechanisms that will translate research into technologies that are manufactured on a large scale, mainly in the United States, and can support employment here,” he said. “So not just throw money at the problem.”
The Senate bill also includes contributions from committees that do not generally deal with science and technology – including the committees on banking, finance, homeland security and government affairs – which aim to counter China. by other means, for example by preventing espionage of the United States. research and scrutinize certain foreign investments.