Federal

Congress ought to foster the expansion of “Dual-Credit” systems.

Dual-credit systems are those in which a high school student may take college courses, typically at a local community college, and receive high school and college credit simultaneously. Expansion of these programs can help more high school students take advanced STEM courses. Via the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Congress should allocate up to $25 million per year for five years to the Department of Education to encourage the spread of dual-credit systems generally. DOE would release the funding in the form of numerous, but small startup grants to school districts wishing to establish or expand dual-credit courses.

The Department of Education should create “Early College High Schools” with a STEM track.

Early College High Schools are schools that enable students to also enroll in community college classes during high school. The U.S. Department of Education should partner with the philanthropic foundations currently supporting such programs to incorporate a STEM track within them, or to launch new Early College High School Programs with a STEM focus – particularly in locations where low-income neighborhoods are fortuitously located adjacent to strong STEM colleges and universities.

Congress should provide funding to create 400 new STEM focused high schools.

Congress should allocate $200 million a year for ten years to the Department of Education, to be supplemented by states and local school districts and industry, with the goal of quintupling the number of STEM high schools to 500 and enrollment to around 235,000 by 2015. In addition, institutional partnerships are a key to success of STEM high schools. Whether it’s the donation of research equipment, the opening of their facilities to students and faculty, or mentoring of students, technology-based companies can play an important supportive role. To further their involvement, Congress should modify the research and experimentation credit to allow companies to take a flat 30 percent credit for donations of equipment to high schools. Expanding STEM high schools to this extent will make enable slightly more than 1.5 percent of all high schoolers or about one-third of future STEM workers to specialize in STEM.

The Obama administration modernize Regulations.gov to better collect public input on regulations that impede economic growth and innovation.

Policymakers constantly struggle with finding the right balance for regulations that improve citizen welfare while not causing undue burdens on the private sector. Certainly some regulations are useful; however, some may be inefficient or harmful. In our current economic environment, it is critical that government better understand the impact of regulations on economic growth and innovation. As such, it is time to give policymakers better tools to get the job done. ITIF recommends that the Obama administration modernize Regulations.gov to better collect public input on regulations that impede economic growth and innovation.

Congress’s next surface transportation authorization bill should fund basic research, technology development, and pilot programs to begin moving the United States to a mileage-based user fee system (VMT system) by 2020.

The research should be overseen by a multi-modal body within U.S. DOT that combines technology, policy, tax administration, and systems expertise. As recommended by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, the first set of studies should be wide-ranging and experimental, testing various self-selected VMT fee processes. Subsequent tests would be more prescriptive to facilitate the selection of a single, nationally interoperable system.

Congress should charge DOT with developing, by 2014, a national real-time traffic (traveler) information system, particularly in the top 100 metropolitan areas, and this vision should include the significant use of probe vehicles.

By 2014, the top 100 metropolitan areas should have at least 80 percent of freeway and arterial miles enabled by real-time traffic information systems (including incident notification, travel time, and travel speed data), and that information should be available in an interoperable format so that it can be used on any kind of Web, mobile, or in-vehicle application. States should make real-time traffic information freely available to the general public, akin to how the National Weather Service makes weather data available. In leveraging probe vehicles to collect real-time traffic information, the system should employ government vehicles, taxis, and even private fleets that would want to participate. For example, corporate vehicle fleets include hundreds of thousands of vehicles. If necessary, voluntary vehicles could receive a modest subsidy (such as a slightly reduced vehicle registration fee) for installing the probe device. States with cities in the top 100 metropolitan areas that do not achieve real-time traffic information collection and dissemination on 80 percent of their freeway and arterial roadways by 2014 should be penalized each year with fewer federal transportation dollars.

Congress should expand the remit of RITA’s Joint Program Office (JPO) at U.S. Department of Transportation to include deployment as well as research.

Currently, Congress has only given statutory permission for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Joint Program Office (JPO) for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to focus on research related to ITS systems. Congress should expand the JPO’s remit to include deployment as well as research, and also charge the JPO with developing, implementing, and managing a number of large-scale collaborative RDT&E projects focused on substantive and functional areas related to ITS.

Congress’s next surface transportation authorization should provide dedicated, performance-based funding of $1 billion for states to implement existing ITS systems and to provide for operations, maintenance, and training for already-deployed systems.

Currently, ITS projects often have to compete with conventional transportation projects for funding, such that ITS projects, which are poised to deliver greater long term benefits, may have to compete with projects that, while they may be immediately pressing, are not positioned to deliver as great long-term benefits, such as road repair or even new road construction. In addition to a lack of funding, which tends to exacerbate focus on more immediate concerns at the expense of a longer-term vision of the benefits of deploying ITS applications, bureaucratic inertia or a lack of interest, technical skill, or knowledge of ITS benefits have made it more difficult for ITS projects to compete with conventional transportation projects out of the same funding pools.

Congress’s next surface transportation authorization bill should include $1.5 to $2 billion annually in funding for the deployment of large-scale ITS demonstration projects.

ITS will not reach critical mass unless the United States begins to fund large-scale research, demonstration, test and evaluation (RDT&E) projects, as opposed to small “one-off” projects that currently, collectively, do not comprise a system. Moreover, rather than funding almost all ITS deployments through individual states, it would be better for the United States to also fund larger-scale consortia from the federal level. This would address the problem that ITS deployments in the United States tend to be sporadic, incremental one-off deployments scattered locally around the country and move the United States towards funding demonstration and deployment of large-scale, nationally integrated ITS systems. Congress should fund these RDT&E efforts in a number of areas, including: 1. Development of a nationwide real-time traveler information system; 2. Developing large scale platforms to conduct real-time analysis of traffic-related data from millions of vehicles; 3. Real-time transit information systems, including “peer-to-peer” transit systems; 4. Development and deployment of smart traffic signal systems that respond to vehicles’ presence; 5. Improved incident response and traffic operations management systems; 6. Testing to fully prove the viability of a user-miles traveled pricing system; 7. Freight monitoring systems (for example, real-time weigh stations); 8. Model implementations of IntelliDrive in several large U.S. cities.

The United States should form new trade zones of like-minded countries committed to the principles of free and fair trade, starting with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreements.

An increasing number of countries have adopted mercantilist-styled trade and innovation policies. If existing multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank are not equal to the task of ending countries’ mercantilist practices, the United States, Commonwealth nations, European nations, and others should form new trade zones of like-minded countries committed to the principles of free and fair trade, excluding those countries whose “dominant logic” toward trade is characterized by mercantilist, export-led growth strategies. A Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that started by eliminating all tariffs between the United States and Europe would boost combined U.S.-EU GDP by $180 billion in just five years. An agreement that cut non-tariff barriers by 50 percent between the two parties could increase both EU and US GDP by 3 percent, generating annual gains of $450 billion for the United States and $495 billion for Europe.
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