Overall Science, Technology and Innovation Policy in Transition

Friday, February 17, 2017: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 311 (Hynes Convention Center)
William Bonvillian, Director, MIT Washington Office, Washington, DC
Federally-funded university science and technology research has had a long run of general support from Congress and the Executive Branch, but there are signs that this may now be now fraying around the edges. A new Administration is committed to a major tax cut, defense increases and a possible infrastructure program, yet it must still satisfy the fiscal conservatives in its Congressional ranks who seek the balance the federal budget in a decade. This may significantly increase pressure on “domestic discretionary” spending, the category where most science research is located. This pressure is amplified by the general fiscal challenges of an aging population. This talk will review the upcoming federal budget process and the pressure points ahead, as well as the varying levels of support for the major federal R&D agencies.

The talk will then discuss several major areas of federal innovation policy in recent years, and where they now stand in the budget process. This will include the new advanced manufacturing institutes, and innovative energy technology elements like ARPA-E.

It will close with a look at some of the underlying political pressures on universities in general, and possible ways they could rebuild a stronger support with the public.