On September 16, 2014, the Academy debuted the Restoring the Foundation report at a press conference and congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. Introducing the report, the Academy’s panel focused on the importance of providing sustainable federal funding for science and engineering research, especially basic research, and on long-range planning to ensure that America enjoys the maximum benefit from its investments in research.

This important report makes a convincing case that the achievement of the American Dream depends on reviving the nation’s historic reputation for leading the world in scientific and technological research. The Academy not only sets the goal for investment in new discoveries and the technologies to realize their great benefits, it also lays out a detailed set of policies that, if implemented by universities, industry, and government at all levels will increase the value of this research and reduce its costs. In this respect, this study is unique and is especially deserving of careful consideration by all those who agree that a national, collaborative new effort is required to revive our nation’s leadership in this increasingly competitive world.

–Lewis M. Branscomb, Adjunct Professor, University of California, San Diego; Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Corporate Management, Harvard University


Merck strongly supports the American Academy’s report and its recommendations to improve the health of the American science, engineering, and technology enterprise. We recognize that the best scientific discoveries often emerge from collaborating with other researchers and organizations inside and outside our laboratories. We endorse the implementation of the Academy’s “prescriptions” for improved government, university, and industry collaboration as critical steps to ensuring U.S. leadership in global scientific discovery and innovation.

–Kenneth Frazier, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Company, Inc.


American business has long supported a strong federal role in basic research, which is the foundation of the private-sector innovation that drives economic growth, but the United States is now falling behind. Restoring the Foundation explains in clear terms what this slippage means–not just for the U.S. economy but also for our nation’s place as a world innovation leader–and offers solid recommendations for regaining our global research leadership. Policy-makers considering strategies for economic growth should make Restoring the Foundation part of their own basic research.

–John Engler, President, The Business Roundtable; former President and Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Manufacturers; former Governor of Michigan


This report is an urgent call to recommit to one of our nation’s most successful investments, which has stagnated: the investment in the people and research that have led to the amazing scientific and engineering discoveries underpinning U.S. world leadership. Failure to address our nation’s widening “innovation deficit” will result in the squandering of the international economic and technological leadership that is so vital to our societal welfare. Industrial, government, and academic leaders must work together to implement the sound recommendations in this report.

–Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities


This report makes abundantly clear the threat our nation faces to its standing as the global leader in science and innovation. Even more importantly, it lays out three prescriptions for the future health of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise that reflect fiscal reality, emphasizing long-term strategic thinking and calling for the federal government, industry, and universities to take steps to renew their historical partnership. The wise recommendations in this report can help our nation close the Innovation Deficit; they should, and must, spark action.

–Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities

On July 21, 2015, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) convened the first in a series of bipartisan Senate Commerce working groups to identify priorities for the Senate version of the 2015 America COMPETES Act. Restoring the Foundation cochairs Norman R. Augustine and Neal Lane were invited by the Commerce Committee to participate on behalf of the project committee. The cochairs also submitted a letter addressing the Commerce Committee’s questions on how to maximize the impact of basic research.

On June 23, 2015, ten American business leaders and hundreds of universities, organizations and companies across the country voiced their support of the recommendations from Restoring the Foundation by signing a public statement on “Innovation: An American Imperative.”

“Innovation: An American Imperative” was endorsed in a bipartisan, bicameral “Dear Colleague” letter circulated in Congress. The Academy helped to organize a briefing for Congress on October 20, 2015, to discuss the policies and investments that promote innovation, stimulate economic growth and prosperity, bolster trade, ensure our health and national security, and safeguard the American Dream. The event featured opening remarks from Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), and Gary Peters (D-Michigan), and Representative Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois 14th), and presentations from four corporate research leaders: Norman Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin; Jeannette M. Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research; Roger M. Perlmutter, Executive Vice President, Merck & Co., Inc., and President, Merck Research Labs; and John D. Evans, Vice President, International Science and Technology, Lockheed Martin. 

In 2016, 2017 and 2018 the working group issued progress reports detailing the status of the seven policy recommendations outlined in the call to action.

Read more: Innovation: An American Imperative.”

The American Academy is collaborating with a regional working group of state, local, and university leaders from the plains states to discuss how to establish a unified voice among their research institutions and implement recommendations from Restoring the Foundation. Read a report on the initial meeting from the Summer 2015 issue of the Academy’s magazine, the Bulletin.