Why the United States Needs a National Advanced Industry and Technology Agency



Robert D. Atkinson | Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

With the rise of China and other economic competitors, the United States requires a national advanced technology strategy. While there are many steps Congress and the Biden administration should take—steps the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has detailed in numerous reports—the most important is the creation of a dedicated national technology agency. Well over 50 nations have already established such bodies. This new agency, ideally at least as large as the National Science Foundation (NSF), would lead a number of core tasks, including analyzing U.S. industry strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and responding with well-resourced solutions, including support for domestic research and development (R&D) and production partnerships and investment in advanced research facilities.

To be clear, we recognize the political difficulty of creating any new agency, given committee conflicts, a view that such reorganization is difficult, and resistance by some to larger government. But doing so is critical. NSF and the academic science community play a key role in the advancement of basic science, but that is different than supporting technological innovation and value capture in the United States. While the Department of Defense (DOD) plays a key role in technology development, its focus will always be on defense needs. The Department of Energy (DOE) is either focused on basic science or energy technology. What the United States lacks and desperately needs is a free-standing federal entity whose sole mission is supporting advanced technology industry development in order to help America compete.

Such an agency should take the lead in crafting and regularly revising a national advanced industry and technology strategy (AITS). It should coordinate, along with the White House, an interagency process to help align federal, state, and international (allied nation) policies and programs with the goal of U.S. advanced industry competitiveness. And it should be the one place in government that funds activities explicitly focused on commercial competitiveness.


To read the full report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, please click here.