The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will soon update their plan for research and development. The new plan will lay the groundwork for the government’s tech priorities. Daniel Gerstein, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and author of “The Story of Technology,” says that technology funding has changed immensely over the decades, and policy changes need to be made to reflect that.
“Where does technology come from? If you go back to the 1940’s and ’50’s when the modern concepts of research and development were put into place, the government was the largest funder of R&D. About 70% of all spending on research and development was government-done. Today, that’s completely inverted. In fact, government accounts for some 25-30%, depending on which year we’re talking about,” Gerstein said. “At that level, that means the government has to become a better consumer and can’t necessarily drive where the money is spent. So the government puts out the documents and the objectives and say ‘This is what we are interested in.’ but then it is really industry, academia, the labs to be able to follow up and make decisions to satisfy government interests.”