President Obama Addresses the National Academies

By David Bruggeman
April 30, 2009

On Monday, President Obama spoke before the National Academies during the National Academy of Sciences’ Annual meeting. Both audio and video of the address are available from the Academies, and from the White House. A transcript can be found on

The address was noteworthy in part because he was only the fourth sitting President to address the Academy’s annual meeting since it was chartered in 1863. It was also noteworthy for the policy goals stated in the address. They include:

  • A commitment to devote more than 3 percent of GDP to research and development. This would exceed the percentage committed to R&D during the Apollo era. Currently the country (private and public spending) spends 2.6-2.7 percent of GDP on research and development.
  • A doubling of the budgets for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. This could simply mean a commitment to stick to the current doubling path outlined in President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative and the America COMPETES Act.
  • The research and experimentation tax credit is made permanent in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget. This tax credit has been around for several years, but often faced last-minute reprieves from expiration.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E, will also be funded in the FY 2010 budget, trying to replicate the high-risk, high-reward model of DARPA in the Defense Department.
  • Establishment of challenge grants to encourage states to increase improvements in their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
  • To regain the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
  • Tripling the number of graduate research fellowships at the National Science Foundation.