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White House Outlines FY 2019 R&D Budget Priorities, Emphasizes Role of Industry

On August 17, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney, with Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a joint memorandum to federal agency and department heads on “FY 2019 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities.” The R&D memo, along with an earlier memo released in July that outlines more general budget reforms, keeps with the practices of past administrations to lay out key White House priorities as agencies begin working on their budget submissions for the next fiscal year. Of course, the priorities within the memos can differ dramatically depending on the Administration, which is the case with this year’s guidance.

The FY 2019 R&D memo acknowledges the important role of science and technology to America’s global leadership, and particularly to issues of “national security, economic growth, and job creation.” However, there is some subtle, yet important language signaling possible shifts in this Administration’s priorities for science funding. For example, the memo states, “In spurring future advances, Federal funding of research and development programs and research infrastructure can play a crucial supporting role [emphasis added].” While it directs federal agencies to “continue, and expand where necessary, efforts to focus on basic research,” it directs agencies to reduce funding overlaps with private industry in later-stage research. It further states that “Working in tandem, the Government and the private sector can promote the nation’s economic growth through innovation, and create new products and services for the American people.”

The memo also outlines a number of priorities related to funding practices and accountability, including ensuring that “proposed programs are based on sound science, do not duplicate existing R&D efforts, and have the potential to contribute to the public good.” It further states that federal agencies should identify existing programs “that could progress more efficiently through private sector R&D, and consider their modification or elimination where Federal involvement is no longer needed or appropriate.”

Other key science priorities for the Trump Administration in FY 2019 include research “that can support the military of the future,” the development of “technologies necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, mitigate the effects of both natural and adversarial threats and hazards, and secure American borders,” and development of a domestic energy portfolio that includes “fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.” As for biomedical (NIH) research, the memo calls for priority to be placed on programs “that encourage innovation to prevent, treat, and defeat diseases, and maintain America’s standing as a world leader in medicine.” Further, agencies should prioritize research addressing aging populations, drug addiction, and other public health challenges.

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

OMB’s FY 2019 Budget Guidance Calls for Major Funding Reforms

On July 7, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), led by Director Mick Mulvaney, issued a memorandum to federal departments and agencies with guidance on how to approach development of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget submission. According to the memo, “the FY 2019 Budget will provide an opportunity to present a comprehensive plan for reforming the Federal Government and reducing the Federal civilian workforce. It also will reflect the first impacts of the Government reorganization called for by Executive Order 13781 [issued in March].” Budget submissions are expected to continue proposals included in the FY 2018 budget. Initial FY 2019 budget proposals from the agencies are due to OMB by September 11, 2017, even though agencies will not yet know what their FY 2018 budgets will be (see related article).

As you may recall, the Trump Administration implemented a temporary federal workforce hiring freeze during its first few weeks in office and issued a “Comprehensive plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.” Agencies’ FY 2019 budgets are expected to include “agency reform plans” that make proposals for eliminating activities, restructuring or merging, improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and workforce management.

Alongside submission of their budget proposals, agencies are also tasked with submitting draft strategic plans covering FY 2018-2022, a draft FY 2019 performance plan, and agency priority goals for FY 2018-2019. OMB will work with federal departments and agencies over the next several months to prepare the final FY 2019 budget request, which will be delivered to Congress in February 2018.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congressman Mick Mulvaney Nominated for OMB Director

On December 16, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Trump Administration. Mulvaney made a name for himself during his three terms in the House as an outspoken opponent of government spending.

OMB serves as the implementation and enforcement arm of Presidential policy through budget development, oversight of agency performance, legislative coordination, and oversight of executive orders. If confirmed by the Senate, Mulvaney will have broad responsibilities implementing President-elect Trump’s agenda, including a central role in health care and tax policy changes, as well as the repeal of government regulations.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 10), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

OMB Seeks Comments on Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

On September 30, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Federal Register Notice soliciting comments regarding “Review and Possible Limited Revision of OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive on Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.” These standards were last revised in 1997. The Notice observes that since the revisions were implemented, “much has been learned about how these standards have improved the quality of Federal information collected and presented on race and ethnicity.” Accordingly, the Notice identifies areas that may “benefit from further refinement” (see the Notice for full details).

Specifically, OMB is seeking comments in three areas: “(1) The adequacy of the current standard in the areas identified for focused review; (2) specific suggestions for the identified areas that have been offered; and (3) principles that should govern any proposed revisions to the standards in the identified areas.” Comments are due by  “no later than [30 days from publication of this notice]” which would be on or around October 31.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

White House Issues Annual S&T Guidance for FY 2017 Budget

On July 9, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued their annual joint memorandum to federal agencies outlining “Multi-Agency Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2017 Budget.” Each year, OMB and OSTP outline specific White House science, technology, and innovation priorities for federal investment, which is meant to inform federal agencies’ development of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget submission to OMB and Congress. Similar to last year’s guidance, the FY 2017 memorandum asks federal agencies to allocate resources to a number of multi-agency research activities, including advanced manufacturing, clean energy, earth observations, global climate change, information technology and high-performance computing, neuroscience, national and homeland security, and R&D for informed policy-making and management. Giving special acknowledgement to basic research, the memorandum states:

“Federal government funding for research and development (R&D) is essential to address societal needs in areas in which the private sector does not have sufficient economic incentive to make the required investments. Key among these is basic research—the fundamental, curiosity-driven inquiry that is a hallmark of the American research enterprise and a powerful driver of new technology.”

Federal agencies will work throughout the summer and fall in preparation of their FY 2017 budget requests, which won’t be unveiled until February 2016.

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Posted in Issue 13 (July 14), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

OMB Asks Agencies to Plan for 5 Percent Reductions in FY 2017

Although Congress is just beginning the process of working to enact fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations for federal agencies and programs, agency officials are beginning their work on the FY 2017 budget request. In a memo from Shaun Donovan, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), federal agencies have been advised to prepare their FY 2017 budget proposals with a five percent reduction below the net discretionary total provided in the FY 2016 President’s budget request. The scenario is meant to assist the Administration in its efforts to “deliver a Government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth.” This is a common exercise in the annual federal budget preparation process. Additional details and guidance for FY 2017 can be viewed in the OMB memo.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 19), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

OMB Finalizes New Statistical Policy Directive

On December 2, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, “Fundamental Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Statistical Units.” The Directive provides “a unified articulation of Federal statistical agency responsibilities.” In order to implement the Directive, federal statistical agencies will report to OMB on their progress toward fulfilling four key responsibilities: (1) Produce and disseminate relevant and timely information, (2) Conduct credible and accurate statistical activities, (3) Conduct objective statistical activities, and (4) Protect the trust of information providers by ensuring the confidentiality and exclusive statistical use of their responses. A draft version of the Directive was released for public comment in May (more information here).

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Posted in Issue 22 (December 5), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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