Scientific and technological advancement played a central role in ensuring U.S. prosperity and power in the 20th century. From the first flight of the Wright brothers in 1903 to the creation of Google in the 1990s, U.S. scientific and technological innovations have reshaped the global economy and provided both economic mobility and national security for generations of Americans. Whether the United States will maintain its preeminence over the course of the 21st century is an open question. Some observers assert that U.S. leadership is at risk. They argue that the United States underinvests in physical sciences and engineering (PS&E) research and underperforms in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. (PS&E research and STEM education are believed to be central pillars in the foundation supporting U.S. scientific and technological achievement.) At the same time, other nations are increasing their commitments to research and education in the STEM fields and, as a result, can compete for a growing percentage of the world's high-value jobs and industries. Concern that the United States has or could fall behind in the global race to innovate propelled passage of the 2007 America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) and its successor, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358). The COMPETES Acts authorized increasing funding for targeted federal accounts that support PS&E research (commonly referred to as the "doubling path policy") and authorized (or reauthorized) certain federal STEM education programs. The acts also established the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), allowed federal agencies to use prize competitions to spur innovation, and directed the executive branch to coordinate policies providing access to federally funded research-among many other provisions. Neither of the COMPETES Acts has been fully funded or implemented. Actual funding for the targeted PS&E research accounts did not reach authorized levels, and most of the STEM education programs established by the acts were not realized. On the other hand, existing STEM education programs that were reauthorized by the acts generally continued to operate. ARPA-E, which was established by the acts, was implemented and continues to operate. Federal agencies are also using the act's prize authority-at least 68 competitions have been initiated under the authority of P.L. 111-358. Most of the funding authorizations in the COMPETES Acts have expired. Legislation to reauthorize all or portions of the acts was introduced, but not enacted, in the 113th Congress. Legislators may seek to reauthorize all or portions of the COMPETES Acts in the 114th Congress. This report provides an overview the acts for readers seeking background and legislative context. It serves both as a primer and a reference document, including a description and legislative history of the acts, a summary of the broad policy debate, and an examination of the implementation status of selected COMPETES-related programs and policies. This report also highlights major bills to reauthorize the acts from the 113th Congress.