This morning, the Obama Administration released a new report on competitiveness -- The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States. Prepared by the Commerce Department and the National Economic Council, the document was required under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 to look at a long laundry list of topics.
The beginning of the document is focused on the competitiveness problems and the importance of innovation. I was pleased to see that the report adopts broad definition of innovation from the 2008 Commerce Department report Innovation Measurement: Tracking the State of Innovation in the American Economy (see earlier posting) as:
The design, invention, development and/or implementation of new or altered products, services, processes, systems, organizational structures, or business models for the purpose of creating new value for customers and financial returns for the firm.It also makes reference (in a footnote) to work on intangibles. Unfortunately, as is generally the case, the rest of the discussion seems to fall back into the research-based, technology driven vision of innovation.
As far as offering up any new policy proposals, the document is much more limited. It is really a discussion and description of previous and ongoing Administration policies and programs. At today's PCAST meeting, Commerce Secretary John Bryson referred to the report as a "call to arms." One of the main purpose seem to be to reinforce the importance of federal government investments in R&D, education and infrastructure.
The report is a generally good set up to a discussion of the competitiveness and innovation issue. It is sad, however, that the report has to fall back on a primary objective of defending what should be a no-brainer: that federal investments in R&D, education and infrastructure matter to the growth of the economy. As long as we are still forced to defend these basic principles it will be hard to go one to a discussion of all the other things needed to make our economy more competitive and innovative. That is the study we desperately need.