Press Release

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Member Jeannette Wing Testifies Before Congress on U.S. Science and Technology Enterprise


Microsoft Research Corporate VP Wing calls for implementation of Academy recommendations for long-term sustainability of U.S. science & engineering research enterprise

CAMBRIDGE, MA | May 12, 2016 — As part of her testimony before Congress yesterday, American Academy member and Microsoft Research Corporate Vice President Jeannette M. Wing offered a series of policy recommendations that are critical for the health and productivity of basic research in the United States—and the nation’s long-term prosperity.

Wing delivered this testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 in a hearing entitled “Leveraging the U.S. Science and Technology Enterprise.” Her statement to the Senate Committee highlighted the recommendations of Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream, the 2014 report of the American Academy’s Committee on New Models for U.S. Science and Technology Policy. The New Models committee was cochaired by former Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Norman Augustine and former National Science Foundation Director Neal Lane, now of Rice University. Wing served as a member of the committee.

The Restoring the Foundation report’s recommendations—which have received strong backing among businesses and universities alike—included: 1) relieving regulatory burdens that limit the productivity of American researchers; 2) encouraging more robust research partnerships among federal and state governments, public and private universities, and industry; and 3) establishing sustainable real growth of at least 4% in federal funding of basic research and a long-term investment goal of 0.3% of gross domestic product (GDP).

In remarks delivered to open the hearing, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-SD) cited the contributions that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and other organizations have made in the Committee’s efforts to date. Senator Thune said, “The Committee’s Working Group is developing bipartisan legislation drawing on the input received from the roundtables and stakeholder feedback, related bills introduced by members of the Commerce Committee and others, and policy recommendations made by entities such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences.”

Others offering testimony at the hearing included Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President and Founder Rob Atkinson; David C. Munson Jr., Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan; and National Science Board Vice Chairman Kelvin Droegemeier. As part of his written testimony, Dr. Droegemeier made reference to the Restoring the Foundation recommendation about modifications to Federal tax law to remove impediments to corporate-academic partnerships.

About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; higher education, the humanities, and the arts; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good. The Academy’s work is advanced by its more elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the country and the world.

About Restoring the Foundation
In September 2014, the New Models for U.S. Science and Technology Policy commission issued its report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. The report underscored the importance of federally supported research, particularly basic research, that is critical for driving innovation and ensuring economic opportunities. The Restoring the Foundation report urged a greater focus on the long-term sustainability of the U.S. research enterprise and offered recommendations in three areas that will be critical for securing America’s leadership in science, engineering, and technology in the twenty-first century:

  • Secure America’s Leadership in Science and Engineering Research–Especially Basic Research–by Providing Sustainable Federal Investments. America is falling behind in innovation by failing to make sustainable long-term investments needed to remain the global leader in industry and commerce.

  • Ensure that the American People Receive the Maximum Benefit from Federal Investments in Research. Many current policies and practices in government, industry, and universities hinder the most effective impact of federal investments in research.

  • Regain America’s Standing as an Innovation Leader by Establishing a More Robust National Government-University-Industry Research Partnership. The United States is in need of a new kind of research partnership that includes government (federal and state), universities (public and private), and industry, as well as philanthropy and private foundations, in which each sector supports the nation’s science and technology research enterprise.

Several initiatives have emerged in response to Restoring the Foundation. In June 2015, the Academy joined with a coalition of organizations in issuing “Innovation: An American Imperative,” a statement in support of several of the report’s key recommendations. The heads of nine large U.S. corporations signed the call to action, which urged Congress to enact policies and make investments to ensure that the United States remains the global innovation leader. Over 350 organizations, including at least one from every state, also endorsed the call to action. In October 2015, members of the Innovation Imperative coalition held a public symposium on Capitol Hill, at which industry leaders discussed federal policies and investments that would promote innovation, stimulate economic growth and prosperity, and ensure the country’s health and national security. Most recently, in January 2016, a bipartisan group of members from both houses of Congress sent a letter to their colleagues that underscored the importance of several policy prescriptions set forth in the Restoring the Foundation report and reaffirmed by the Innovation Imperative call to action.

The Academy is now working with other stakeholders in the U.S. research enterprise to raise the profile of science and engineering research in public and political discourse. The objectives of this collaborative effort are to 1) cultivate the next generation of champions for strong science, engineering, and technology policy; 2) create a database of organizations that are active in promoting research; and 3) establish a virtual science policy center for communication, collaboration, and coordination.