The bipartisan America COMPETES Act was first signed into law in 2007 and was Congress’s response to the influential 2005 National Academies of Sciences study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, then President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. It set three major federal agencies responsible for funding basic research in the physical sciences and engineering – the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE/SC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – on a seven-year doubling path. The bill also strived to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels, as well as to improve the U.S. innovation system.
Congress reauthorized the COMPETES Act in December 2010 for another three years. While the reauthorization slowed the doubling path to 10 years from the original bill’s seven, its passage was an important reaffirmation by Congress that continued and growing support for the partnership between federal science-funding agencies and U.S. universities is crucial to continuing the nation’s leadership in science and innovation.
Following its expiration in 2013, the COMPETES Act is now up for renewal.