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Press Release - National Science Policy Report

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Office of the Press Secretary

August 3, 1994


In a report on national science policy released by the White House today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore called for investment in science as a national priority, and linked scientific research and education to national goals and the future well-being of the country.

"The return from our public investment in fundamental science has been enormous. The principal sponsors and beneficiaries are the American people," said President Clinton. "Our scientific investments are an important national resource which we must sustain and build on for the future."

The science policy report, "Science in the National Interest," is the first major post-Cold War review of national science policy by the White House, and the first formal Presidential statement on science policy since 1979. The report represents the Administration's vision and roadmap for putting science to work on behalf of a broadened set of national goals to benefit the American people: health, prosperity, national security, environmental responsibility, and improved quality of life.

The report, which was released by the Vice President at a White House ceremony, presents a new view of fundamental science research and technological advances as interdependent elements that underpin the nation's economy. "Today's science and technology enterprise is more like an ecosystem than a production line," said Vice President Gore. "Technology is the engine of economic growth; science fuels technology's engine."

The Vice President acknowledged that the new focus on a broadened set of post-Cold War goals will require the most efficient and effective use of scarce resources. "Over the long term, U.S. investment in fundamental research must be commensurate with our national goals," he said.

The document proposes a series of actions to meet five broad goals for world leadership in science, mathematics and engineering:

-- Maintain leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge;
-- Enhance connections between fundamental research and national goals;
-- Stimulate government, industry, and academic partnerships that promote investment in fundamental science and engineering and effective use of physical, human, and financial resources;
-- Produce the finest scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century;
-- Raise the scientific and technology literacy of all Americans.

The report calls for full and equal participation of all Americans, as both contributors to and benefactors of the nation's scientific investment, and recommends a number of actions to increase diversity in the science and technology workforce. "America derives great strength from its diversity, yet the country has not had a coherent policy for developing all our human resources for science and technology," said Gore. He underscored the importance of role models and mentoring by announcing a new Presidential awards program to recognize such activities at the state and local level.

The report also calls on scientists to become directly and actively involved in the "critically important national challenge" to increase literacy and to meet the Administration's "Goals 2000" education agenda. "Our economic strength will depend more than ever on the ability of the American people to deal with new challenges and rapid change," said Vice President Gore. "Our scientific community must contribute more strongly to broad public understanding of scientific issues and information."

Highlighting an emphasis on partnerships, the policy calls for the "creative participation of industry and academia" in helping to ensure the prosperity, security and social well-being of the nation. At the same time, the policy acknowledges that the societal applications of fundamental science are not always immediately apparent and require sustained support to yield benefits. "We must not allow a short-term focus to limit the long-term potential benefits," said Vice President Gore.

"These policies and actions are significant steps in a proactive, ongoing process," said the President's Science Advisor, John Gibbons, who joined the Vice President for the release of the report. "This vision belongs to the many agencies and institutions which will use it as a roadmap to the future. But more importantly, it belongs to the American people, whose support is essential if we are to build a secure foundation for our nation and our children."

The 31-page policy document, as issued by President Clinton's National Science and Technology Council, is available for electronic dissemination on FedWorld and through the Internet at whitehouse.gov, sunsite.unc.edu, and other major online sites.

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