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For 50 years, the United States poured money into basic research and subsequently reaped the rewards of that science. But in a major new report, the leaders of the government's science operation are calling for an overhaul of that system.

The report “may be one of the most important things we've ever done,” outgoing National Academy of Sciences President Frank Press said during a recent congressional hearing. Produced by a joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, it is entitled “Science, Technology and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era.”