We humbly submit this template for building a comprehensive U.S. technology policy platform, if and when the presidential candidates decide they need one: • Create a national energy research center that is positioned, funded and staffed to be a state-of-the-art organization for defining, driving and conducting basic research into alternative and renewable energy technology. Give the center clear responsibility over energy research at all of the national labs, and make sure it has a strong arm reaching out to industry.
• Study the requirements for finding transitional electronics technologies to take us beyond the estimated 2020 lifetime of semiconductors. Bolster the budget of the existing National Nanotechnology Institute as needed to assist in the basic research component of that transition.
• Create a comprehensive program to address the shortfalls in U.S. math, science and engineering education. It should be integrated with your overall education platform but must include specific measures to expand the number of graduates in these crucial disciplines significantly within your four-year term. It also should include a public outreach function to show young people that technological competence is empowering, much as the anti-littering campaigns of the 1960s taught boomers it's not cool to throw trash out of the car window.
• Expand temporary visa programs and improve the immigration system so anyone with technological prowess--and certainly anyone who earns an advanced degree at a U.S. institution--can stay, work and become a citizen. But charge the Labor Department to create a watchdog unit that ensures employers are not underpaying foreign workers hired on temporary or transitional visas.
• Create a metric for defining broadband service in a flexible, evolving manner. Make that baseline part of the universal-service right of every citizen. Charter the National Institutes of Health to define a road map for a baseline of digital, networked medical-service delivery, and make it part of any universal-healthcare program. Make sure the appropriate tax and grant incentives are in place to encourage the healthcare industry to transition at a brisk, innovative pace to electronic systems.
• Recognize that the patent office and the courts are overburdened because the U.S. patent system is being pulled too hard in too many directions. Create a Cabinet-level position of national chief technology officer. Charge that person to develop and drive a comprehensive policy on intellectual property, and to advise your administration on technology and science issues.
Of course, this is only a starter kit. Before your platform is finished, you will have to attach budget numbers and target dates to all these goals, and show where you will get the money and how you will meet the timetable.
That said, building on this humble reference design, you could craft a leading position that would win the votes of rank-and-file engineers and technology executives alike. More important, your platform would bolster U.S. industry to lead the world to higher levels of prosperity.