Compiled By Deborah Austin The foundation of U.S. competitiveness has developed serious cracks despite the past decade's economic boom, says U.S. Competitiveness 2001: Strengths, Vulnerabilities and Long-term Priorities, a new report issued by the Council on Competitiveness. The report explores innovation's role as a source of competitive advantage and a driver of productivity and growth. As a share of national wealth, it shows, public research-and-innovation investment has fallen. And the supply of scientists, engineers, and technicians is growing abroad but declining in the U.S. Sustaining such investment is "critical to maintaining our economic competitiveness and standard of living," says Raymond Gilmartin, Council chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. Inc. The report pinpoints long-term policy priorities in three areas: maintaining world leadership in science and technology, boosting overall workforce skills, and strengthening regional clusters of innovation. The Washington, D.C.-based Council is a non-partisan forum of corporate chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, creating a national agenda to strengthen U.S. competitiveness.