2023 Report & Recommendations
The State of Science in America
Government investment in science and technology has enabled the United States to lead the world in key technological advances and innovative discoveries for decades. Today, we can no longer take our leadership position for granted. The State of Science in America report provides clarity on the need for a national science and technology strategy that leverages renewed federal investment and better government agency coordination to strengthen our nation for decades to come.Download the Report Download the Press Release
How the United States Can Regain Global Leadership in Science & Technology
By focusing on these three factors, the United States will be positioned to lead globally on the technologies critical to the future, such as artificial intelligence, clean energy, and advanced bioscience.
Key Report Findings
America has been the world’s innovation powerhouse because we made science and technology a top national priority. But federal funding in this area has dropped as a percentage of GDP over the past several decades. And while the U.S. remains highly innovative and competitive, we lack a long-term plan going forward. The eight findings below form the basis of our argument for a national science and technology strategy that increases funding and coordinates the federal government’s response to society’s most significant challenges.
The United States is perceived to be losing the race for global leadership in science and technology.
Respondents believe the top obstacle to future scientific advancement in the United States is the quality of K-12 STEM education.
The federal government is viewed as the driver of science and technology advancements in the United States.
A majority of respondents across political ideologies and sectors agree that federal funding of science and technology is vital.
There is a strong desire for additional scientific leadership in public policy across all political identifications and sectors.
Most respondents find increasing distrust and politicization of science troubling.
The rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) is raising significant concern.
Those working in national security are especially worried about international intellectual property theft.
More than 75% of respondents believe the United States is losing or has already lost this critical competition. Those who work in health care or in the military or national security are more likely to say the U.S. has already been overtaken by other countries, while those in STEM fields were more likely to say we’re losing ground. In addition, 60% of respondents say China — not the United States — will be the leader within five years.
Respondents in every sector surveyed — including those in K-12 education — said the lack of adequate K-12 STEM education is the No. 1 obstacle to advancing science and technology in the United States. Rounding out the rest of the top five obstacles were foreign nations’ undermining of U.S. research; the abundance of red tape in the U.S. scientific research process; the lack of a national science and technology strategy; and inadequate funding for research and development.
A plurality of respondents (41%) said the federal government holds the primary responsibility for ensuring the strength of science and technology in the country. Another 23% chose private companies, while 22% chose academic institutions and just 4% chose nonprofit organizations.
In a moment of clear agreement, nearly 70% of respondents, including a majority in all sectors and across all political identifications — 86% of Democrats, 63% of independents, and 55% of Republicans — said federal government investment in science and technology is so important that it should be protected from budget cuts.
In another area of clear agreement, more than 80% of respondents — including 89% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and 76% of Republicans — would like to see more input from science leaders in policymaking. In fact, more than 75% in each sector — not just those working in science — desire greater leadership.
Nearly 80% of respondents — including 91% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 69% of Republicans — are concerned about growing public distrust in science. More than 75% of respondents — including 89% of Democrats, 79% of independents and 65% of Republicans — raised concerns about politicians discrediting scientists.
Overall, 39% of respondents believe AI will have a negative impact on society, while 25% believe the impact will be positive. Another 25% believe the impact will be neutral, while 12% said they’re not sure. Those who work in STEM hold a more optimistic view with 32% saying AI’s impact will be positive, while those in K-12 education are more pessimistic, with 44% saying AI’s impact will be negative.
Those in the military or national security fields were more likely to say that foreign powers undermining or stealing our research and technology is one of the biggest obstacles to scientific and technological advancement, placing it as the No. 2 barrier behind K-12 STEM education. This group also chose stronger enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights as the policy that would have the largest impact on America’s ability to lead in science and technology.
Based on survey findings and insights from the full STAC committee, the report includes six key policy recommendations, each intended to strengthen science and technology in the United States.
- Create a comprehensive, national strategy for advancing science and technology innovation in the United States.
- Foster greater coordination among the 20+ federal agencies with scientific missions.
- Increase federal funding for science and technology from 0.7% to at least 1.4% of U.S. GDP in the next five years.
- Bolster STEM education at all levels, starting with K-12.
- Ensure a diverse domestic STEM workforce while also cultivating international talent.
- Work with other nations — both allies and adversaries — on global challenges.
Letter from Committee Chairs
As Co-Chairs of the Science & Technology Action Committee, we are deeply committed to advancing discovery and innovation in the United States in the pursuit of a healthier, more prosperous, and more secure America and world. We developed the State of Science in America report to gain insight into American workers’ priorities, and gain experts’ perspectives on the consequences of the lack of a comprehensive national science and technology strategy. Our letter to policymakers details what we discovered and puts forward an urgent recommendation for a path forward.
Sudip Parikh, Ph.D
Keith Yamamoto, Ph.D
This report features results from a survey of 1,981 Americans working in five key workforce sectors to examine their perceptions of U.S. competitiveness. It also assesses respondents’ support for the development of a national strategy and increased federal funding of science and technology.
Surveyed Americans in five Sectors
Americans working in the following five sectors were surveyed: health care, K-12 education, STEM, military/national security, and business.
Within these sectors, we also polled both union and non-union workers. In addition to being currently employed, all respondents indicated they are registered voters and provided their political affiliation.
26 EXPERTS’ INSIGHTS.
1,981 workers surveyed.
5 workforce sectors.
The Science and Technology Action Committee (STAC)’s report highlights the widespread, bipartisan view that America is falling behind in science and technology—and the steps we must take to regain our prominence.
STAC Subject Matter Experts
Twenty five leaders in science, health, business, national security, technology, and academia provided in-depth analysis and unique insights on the State of Science in America today and the steps we must take to boost our economy, increase our national security, and address the existential threats we face both nationally and globally.Meet Our Experts