WASHINGTON (9 June 2010) -- IEEE-USA President Evelyn Hirt urges the Senate to pass the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. The House of Representatives passed the bill on May 28.
The legislation, similar to the America COMPETES Act that was signed into law in 2007, invests in science, education, innovation and competitiveness. It is designed to help the United States maintain its global leadership in science and technology and create new jobs.
"This bill will help create a new generation of innovators, ensure sustained commitment to research and development, strengthen our energy independence, improve math and science education and fuel economic development," Hirt said. "In addition, programs will be established or extended to strengthen U.S. manufacturers."
Highlights of the bill include:
- Keeps basic research programs on a path to doubling authorized funding levels over 10 years at the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
- Reauthorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, which supports high-risk, high-reward energy technology development
- Authorizes Energy Innovation Hubs to advance promising areas of energy science and engineering from early-stage research to the point where it can be delivered to the private sector
- Supports local efforts to form Regional Innovation Clusters to strengthen regional economies
- Creates Innovative Technology Federal Loan Guarantees to help small and mid-size manufacturers receive capital to become more efficient and stay competitive
- Assists industry by ensuring that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at NIST provides companies with services and access to resources that enhance growth, improve productivity and expand capacity
- Reorganizes NIST laboratories to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of technology and better meet the needs of industry
- Reauthorizes the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to encourage science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 math and science teachers
The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act passed the House by a vote of 262 to 150. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) sponsored the bill, which had 101 cosponsors.
"If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, where our country's technology edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today," Gordon said in a statement. "The path is simple. Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs and the revenue to pay for more research. And as private firms under-invest in research and development because the returns are too far off in the future, there is a clear and necessary role of government to help our nation keep pace with the rest of the world."
Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), co-chair of the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, characterized the bill as "an investment in scientific advancement with proven economic returns for many years to come."