NSTC Federal Policy Review

Call for Issues Papers

Overview: Federal Policy in Support of a National Innovation System

Technological innovation and the science that enables innovation have been America's competitive edge for improving health, prosperity, and quality of life and for providing national security. Half of the nation's economic productivity in the last half century is attributable to innovation. The economic benefits of technological advances have contributed to the competitiveness not only of the traditional "technology sector", including manufacturing and processing industries, but also has driven the creation of a vibrant and globally competitive service industry. The knowledge-based society of the next century only increases the centrality of scientific and technological advances as our principal strengths.

A national innovation system has developed around America's ability to commercialize cutting edge science and technology advances for the benefit of our society. This system contains many elements, both formal and informal, that generally can be classified according to their ability to enable either the production or the application of new knowledge. The production elements of the system incorporate mechanisms for research and development (research performers, laboratories and equipment, institutions, policies, and funding sources) that facilitate innovation through scientific discovery. The application elements support deployment and diffusion of knowledge for use throughout the economy, through problem solving, creation of new products and services, and development of more efficient processes. A key and essential component of the entire system is strong and sustained support for education, training, and workforce development. Federal government has important roles in all of these areas, but must be viewed only as one partner in a national effort which includes the private sector, universities and other non-profit institutions, and state and local governments.

Over the past decade, the pace of technical innovation has increased dramatically, due in no small part to past Federal efforts to sustain and nurture the science and technology enterprise. Yet some elements of the national innovation system have not been able to adapt as rapidly as others to accommodate these changes. For example:

These are but a few examples of how rapidly changing conditions for innovation are raising new challenges for the Federal government in creating regulatory and policy environments that are sound and responsive to the needs of the national innovation system. As a result, our national ability to reap the benefits of technical innovation is sometimes delayed or even stifled. This phenomenon appears to be independent of Federal funding levels for research and development. Rather, it is related to the ability of the Federal policy and regulatory environment to adapt to institutional changes throughout the economy. In order to ensure continuation of a robust and productive national innovation system, we must identify and address opportunities to make Federal regulations and policies more adaptive and responsive in an increasingly technologically-based society.

Issue Paper Solicitation

The Committee on Technology (CT) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is seeking to develop and implement an action plan for Federal policy and regulatory reform that will enhance innovation. While numerous reviews and articles have appeared in recent years about the innovation process and the Federal government's role, this will be the first attempt to develop a specific national reform program for Federal support of innovation and establish priorities for Federal action.

As a first step, the CT is soliciting via this announcement input from industry, academia, non-profits, and state, local and Federal government on opportunities for Federal policy and regulatory reforms that will enhance our national innovation system. The CT is inviting submissions in the form of "issues papers" that identify top priorities and outline ideas for reforming Federal support of innovation in four areas:

Issue papers should be succinct (not more than 5 pages). The identified priorities for reform should be of broad applicability across Federal agencies and industry sectors, although they may address a specific phase of the innovation process. Issues papers should not focus on specific barriers encountered due to a particular Federal agency policy or regulation, although these situations may be used to illustrate the kinds of reforms to be pursued. Issues papers also should not attempt an in-depth analysis of the Federal role, or present an inventory of deficiencies in Federal support of innovation. Rather, papers should specifically identify the priority areas for Federal reform of broad applicability, the types of reforms that might be introduced, and the timeframe in which they might be implemented.

Potential areas that might be addressed in an issues paper include, but are not limited to:

Issues paper submissions will be used to develop the agenda for a workshop to be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 1999. The workshop will focus on the top areas for potential reform identified through this solicitation and develop a national action plan for Federal reforms to enhance innovation.

Deadline for issues paper submissions is September 17, 1999. We encourage you to submit your papers electronically (in Microsoft Word or Word Perfect formats) to information@ostp.eop.gov  Please include PRIORITIES FOR FEDERAL INNOVATION REFORM in your subject line. The Title Page of the issues paper should also be clearly marked PRIORITIES FOR FEDERAL INNOVATION REFORM and include the following information:

Alternately, you may submit hardcopies (3 copies please) to:

National Science and Technology Council

Committee on Technology

Old Executive Office Building, Room 423

Washington, DC 20502

For further information, please send your inquiries to the Attention of the NSTC Committee on Technology at information@ostp.eop.gov  or fax to 202-456-6023.


Cover Letter from Dr. Lane


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