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Can Washington Get America's Economy Moving Again with Cash Rewards?

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Jim Campbell / Aero-News Network

In the flurry of activity at the end of the 111th Congress, the reauthorization of the "America COMPETES Act" went mostly unnoticed. But it is a little bill that Washington hopes will prove transformative.

The law—its cringeworthy official name is the America Creating Opportunities To Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act—overhauls the way the federal government supports private-sector R & D, and one of the main ways the government hopes to support R & D is with prizes. Lots of prizes.

So-called "inducement prizes" (as opposed to "recognition prizes," like the Nobel or the MacArthur or the Pulitzer) make up a major part of the Obama administration's grand Strategy for American Innovation. Last year, outlining its vision for a more competitive America, the White House said the government "should take advantage of the expertise and insight of people both inside and outside" Washington by using "high-risk, high-reward policy tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems."

From Slate
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