Late last week, the U.S. Congress quietly approved the “America COMPETES Act,” a bipartisan legislative effort to increase investment in basic research and improve the teaching of math, science and engineering.
Winning overwhelming support in the House and the Senate, the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) bill now sits at the President’s desk for approval.
It authorizes $43.3 billion from 2008 to 2010 in two major areas: doubling funding for basic research in the next decade and strengthening educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from elementary through graduate school.
By almost all accounts, after 50-plus years of leading the world in science and technological innovation, the United States has fallen behind since the turn of the millennium.
Federal support for research and development at universities peaked in 1964 at 2 percent of the gross domestic product; it is currently 0.8 percent.
Furthermore, the United States ranks 17th in the proportion of college students earning science or engineering degrees, and enrollments in computer science programs have fallen off for years now.
Along with dozens of other interest groups, CompTIA (The Computing Technology Industry Association), a computer industry trade association was quick to announce their support of the bill, which is called H.R. 2272.
“Together, the different measures included in H.R. 2272 will lay the groundwork for a stronger and more competitive America that, with your support, we are convinced will preserve America’s global leadership and standard of living well into the 21st century,” wrote Roger J. Cochetti, group director of U.S. public policy at CompTIA, in an open letter to the president.