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Executive Office of the President
President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology
Washington, D.C. 20502


In 1999, Vice President Gore requested the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology Policy (PCAST) to prepare a concise report on ways in which science and technology have contributed to the U.S. economy and to the well-being of the American people in their daily lives.

The members of PCAST reviewed the many ways in which far-sighted investments in research and development activities during the past half-century have enriched Americans’ health, security, environment, and general quality of life. We discussed the challenges to sustain these R&D investments—both in the short term and over the long haul—so that the scientific wellspring will continue to generate prosperity well into the next century. We also emphasized that the promise of technology’s contributions must be met by developing a skilled and flexible workforce and in fostering opportunities for education and lifelong learning for all Americans.

This short report examines several areas in which science and technology have blossomed from wise and balanced investments in research and development over the past several decades. Only a short time ago, many of the technological wonders we now take for granted would have been considered fantasy or science fiction. We note that, in particular, information technologies, based on much more basic research, have led the way in so many fields.

We hope the readers of this brief overview will learn from these success stories and will reflect on the linkage between a wide variety of interdisciplinary discoveries that now make our economy stronger and our lives easier and more rewarding. And we hope that Americans will also understand that we must continue the stream of such investments to ensure that our current prosperity endures. Our Committee congratulates the Clinton-Gore Administration for its appreciation of the importance of a strong and well-balanced science and technology portfolio — and for its hard work and foresight in keeping the wellspring flowing, allowing us and future generations to build a better America for the 21st century.

Neal Lane John Young