State of the Union

Got a “pre-brief” this afternoon from the White House. We’ll like it.
It’ll be webcast live.
We’ll have CRA’s reaction here, right after the speech.
Update (1/31/06 9:20 pm) — Here’s the key passage:

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science.
First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.
Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.
Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative … and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

Update (1/26/06 9:21 pm) — CRA’s response:

January 31, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC – The Computing Research Association commends President Bush for announcing in his State of the Union address a new focus on U.S. competitiveness and innovation in a plan that would include healthy increases for U.S. science agencies.
The President’s plan, called the American Competitiveness Initiative, would double the federal investment in research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science over then next ten years, reversing a trend that has deemphasized fundamental research, which is typically performed in U.S. universities and long-acknowledged as the fuel for American innovation. The plan would also bolster math and science education, make permanent the research and experimentation tax credit, provide worker training opportunities, and reform immigration policies to ensure the U.S. can continue to attract and retain the world’s best and brightest.
“The President’s proposal is an important step in ensuring the U.S. will have the resources — the people, the ideas, the infrastructure — the country needs to continue to lead in an increasingly competitive world,” said Professor Daniel A. Reed, Chair of the Computing Research Association and Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina.
In the last decade, innovations spawned by fundamental research, particularly research in information technology, have driven U.S. productivity increases and fired the new economy. “But the increasing trend toward short–term efforts puts this innovation cycle at risk at exactly the time when our global competitors are expanding and accelerating their own efforts,” Reed said. “I am very pleased the President is committed to doubling the investment in long–term research to reverse the trend.”
Computing researchers have grown increasingly concerned that while information technology remains central to the nation’s economy, national security, health and the conduct of the sciences, the federal investment in fundamental IT research has been stagnant since 2001, and in fact, declined 4.5 percent in the President’s most recent budget submission.
“That’s why it’s crucial that any reinvestment in fundamental research include a revitalization of the federal Networking and Information Technology R&D program,” said Edward Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington and former co–Chair of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee. “While the payoffs of past research have been dramatic, the field remains in relative infancy. Tremendous opportunities remain — far more can happen in the next ten years than has happened in the last thirty, and it is crucial that America lead the way.”
CRA is also supportive of the effort to increase the participation of American students in science and math education, as called for in the President’s plan and featured in bipartisan proposals in Congress. As part of that effort, computing researchers urge policymakers to focus particular attention on reaching out to members of underrepresented groups.
“The pace of innovation is constrained when significant portions of the population aren’t represented in the research and development process,” said John King, Dean of the School of Information at the University of Michigan. “Building a diverse workforce not only encourages a diversity of ideas that breed real innovation, but it may be the only way to meet the Nation’s workforce needs in the face of the projected growth in the field.”
“The President’s innovation agenda creates an important opportunity,” Reed said. “We’re optimistic that these good ideas are shared by a large and growing number of Members of Congress on a bipartisan basis and look forward to working with policymakers to see them implemented in the coming year. Our nation’s future depends critically on increased investments in advanced education and research in information technology and other fields.”
CRA is an organization of 200 of the Nation’s leading industrial computing research labs and university computer science departments. For more information, visit the CRA website at:

Update: (1/31/06 9:51pm) — Standing ovations for:

“Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science.”
“With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.”

State of the Union