WASHINGTON—An inadequate supply of scientists and engineers is the biggest obstacle to keeping the United States competitive in the world economy, according to a survey of 500 industrial, academic and state government research administrators.

They ranked educational issues above research and development issues and fiscal and monetary policies as the most important factor in maintaining U.S. competitiveness. The survey, released last month, was conducted last winter by the National Governors’ Association and The Conference Board. Improving the pre-college science curriculum, increasing the number and quality of science teachers and encouraging more undergraduates to study science and engineering were seen as major elements in improving America’s scientific resources.

Despite the consensus on major themes, the groups differed on some issues (see chart on page 1). University administrators, for example, placed R&D issues first among six factors that are vital to academic competitiveness. But they listed it last in the context of...

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