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National Security Threats, Declining Public R&D Investment Among Key Trends in GAO Strategic Plan

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The Government Accountability Office has unveiled its strategic plan outlining the 12 key trends that will likely affect the federal government and society over the next five years.

These trends include domestic and global national security threats, the rising debt of the federal government, preparation for catastrophic biological incidents, persistent racial and ethnic disparities and the declining public investment in science and technology-related research and development efforts, GAO said Thursday.

For science and tech, the congressional watchdog said the U.S. share of R&D spending worldwide is declining and the country is facing a shortage of skilled technical workers. Moreover, the gaps in the U.S. innovation system have emerged due to the loss of domestic manufacturing capacity.

GAO said policymakers may need to come up with policies that promote innovation, reassess the competition policy, address the decline in public R&D investment and improve incentives for small businesses to innovate.

Other trends cited in the report are the society’s increasing dependence on digital technology, changes to the U.S. workforce, evolving health technologies, the future of global supply chains, environmental security, the increasing use of online learning and technology in education and the evolving space environment.