Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Government Policy [Updated May 30, 2006]   [open pdf - 94KB]

"There is ongoing interest in the pace of U.S. technological advancement due to its influence on U.S. economic growth, productivity, and international competitiveness. Because technology can contribute to economic growth and productivity increases, congressional interest has focused on how to augment private-sector technological development. Legislative activity over the past two decades has created a policy for technology development, albeit an ad hoc one. Because of the lack of consensus on the scope and direction of a national policy, Congress has taken an incremental approach aimed at creating new mechanisms to facilitate technological advancement in particular areas and making changes and improvements as necessary. Congressional action has mandated specific technology development programs and obligations in federal agencies that did not initially support such efforts. Many programs were created based upon what individual committees judged appropriate within the agencies over which they had authorization or appropriation responsibilities. The use of line item funding for these activities, including the Advanced Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as for the Undersecretary for Technology at the Department of Commerce, is viewed by proponents as a way to ensure that the government encourages technological advance in the private sector."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB91132
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