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OSTP Exit Memo: A Progress Report on America’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Enterprise

OSTP releases Exit Memo on broadening participation in science, technology, and innovation and setting course for science and technology frontiers.

Today, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Dr. John Holdren and U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Megan Smith are releasing an Exit Memo that highlights the profound impact President Obama’s leadership has had reinvigorating the American scientific and technological enterprise, including to help build a more effective, efficient, and innovative government. The OSTP Exit Memo also offers an overview of science and technology frontiers and calls for actions needed in the years ahead to include all Americans in driving continued innovation and progress across those frontiers.

On January 20, 2009, President Obama pledged to restore science to its rightful place. Coming into office, the President committed to reinvigorating the American scientific enterprise through a strong commitment to basic and applied research, innovation, and education; to restoring integrity to science policy; and most importantly, to making decisions on the basis of evidence, rather than ideology.

Under President Obama’s leadership, America continues to lead the world in innovation, developing the industries of the future and harnessing science and technology to help address important challenges. In the last 8 years, President Obama’s broad science, technology, and innovation agenda has had a profound impact in setting the stage for new industries and continued innovation in the years ahead, by building U.S. talent and capacity in science and technology; making the long-term investments that will continue to power American innovation; upgrading government science and technology capabilities; and setting ambitious goals that inspire and harness the ingenuity and creativity of the American people.  

OSTP’s Exit Memo highlights 20 science and technology frontiers where future investment and cross-sector collaboration will drive American innovation in the decades ahead, including: 

  • Personal frontiers in health care innovation and precision medicine;
  • Local frontiers in building smart, inclusive communities that serve all residents;
  • National frontiers in harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence, data science, machine learning, automation, robotics, and advanced computing to engage and benefit all Americans;
  • Global frontiers in accelerating the clean-energy revolution and developing advanced climate information, tools, services, and collaborations; and
  • Interplanetary frontiers in space commercialization and exploration, including our journey to Mars.

Looking ahead, Director Holdren and CTO Smith offer 10 actions that are needed in the near term to broaden participation in the science, technology, and innovation that can drive prosperity for all Americans in the coming decades. These actions include:

  1. Investing in fundamental research, the fundamental, curiosity-driven inquiry that is a hallmark of the American research enterprise and a powerful driver of new technology and innovation in the medium and long term.
  2. Recruiting, retaining, and empowering science and technology talent to help build a more effective, efficient, and innovative government that can address our hardest challenges and significantly improve service deliver to citizens.
  3. Identifying and pursuing grand challenges—ambitious yet achievable goals that harness S&T and that have the potential to capture the public’s imagination.
  4. Increasing access to high-quality STEM education and driving innovation for education to allow more Americans to succeed in high-wage STEM fields and develop the human capital needed to fuel American innovation, tackle inequality, and support informed citizenship.
  5. Improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, and mitigating the impacts of bias to harness one of America’s foundational strengths—the unparalleled diversity of the American people and the diversity of ideas they generate.
  6. Supporting innovative entrepreneurs, accelerating high-growth entrepreneurship, ensuring early-stage entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have access to startup capital, and expanding access to entrepreneurial networks and resources across all communities.
  7. Maximizing economic and social return from Federal Government data and investments research and development by opening data, increasing access to the information resulting from Federally funded research, and leveraging data science.
  8. Increasing Federal agency capacity for innovation by pioneering new approaches—and applying approaches piloted by other sectors—that can deliver better results at lower cost for the American people.
  9. Promoting open government through transparency, participation, and collaboration to empower citizens and transform how the Federal Government engages with the American people.
  10. Continuing and strengthening international science, technology, and innovation cooperation and engagement among the United States and its international partners.

Read the Obama Administration OSTP’s Exit Memo

All of us at OSTP have been honored to serve the American people and to serve President Obama—our Science, Technology, and Innovation President. And we are so grateful to the science and technology community for their continued collaboration, ingenuity, and commitment to building a healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable America. As CTO Smith and Director Holdren note, we are especially thankful for their “shared passion for broadening participation, especially among our youth, to field the whole American team in pursuing the frontiers that will increase prosperity, opportunity, justice, health, and security for all.”

Cristin Dorgelo is Chief of Staff at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.