SAN JOSE, Calif. President Barack Obama pledged to raise the level of U.S. federal spending on research and development to more than three percent of the country's gross domestic product. He also named Microsoft chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to his board of advisors on science and technology.
"We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level [of federal spending on R&D] achieved at the height of the Space Race," Obama told a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences Monday (April 27). "This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.
Researchers in computer science raised concerns over the last several years about declines in federal spending on basic research.
"Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century," Obama said in his speech. "As a result, other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation's great discoveries," he said.
"The commitment I am making today will fuel our success for another fifty years," he added.
Separately, Obama names a slate of 20 people to head his President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Most of the new members are from a variety of research fields in the academic community.
Besides Microsoft's Mundie and Google's Schmidt the group includes two other members from the commercial sector--Maxine Savitz, the retired general manager of technology partnerships at Honeywell, Inc. and David E. Shaw, the chief scientist of D. E. Shaw Research, LLC, who leads a research group in computational biochemistry. The previous board had slightly greater representation from industry including top executives from Autodesk, BellSouth, Dell, EMC, Microsoft and Verisign.
PCAST will be chaired by John Holdren, Obama's top science advisor; Eric Lander, one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.