Key US Decision Makers in S&T Policy: A Series

As you may have gathered from earlier posts, I believe that American S&T is in more trouble than ever before, despite encouraging signs from the Obama Administration and the Congress.   Even if the Federal Government did everything right, it is quite unlikely that the private sector would cooperate as much as needed; we only have to look at the EU experience of the last decade.  I had a chance to buttonhole a VP of a major US (actually global) corporation recently, and asked him what it would take for his company to locate their next R&D lab in the US. He laughed.

To remedy the problem that I and those of the US innovation movement see, we need to focus on key decision makers in the US.  I know the government officials better than corporation types, so this series will introduce them first. 

I have to hew to a fine line here.  My non-profit scientific research companies are basically not allowed to lobby.  They can provide information on government policy to you.  As individuals, you and I are indeed allowed to lobby the government for remedies to national problems, as long as we don’t do anything improper that would have to be reported on the certs we have to send in with every proposal.  Research!America has played this game with wild success, so far, in doubling the NIH budget, and other initiatives, so it can be done.

Every Member of Congress has to raise huge sums of money for campaigns to keep their jobs and thus need all the friends they can get.  If you become their friend, they are a lot more likely to pay attention to you.  That’s the way the world works, and it’s entirely legal, as long as you know the rules and follow them.

R. D. Shelton