House Science Committee Advances NSF Legislation

On June 15, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee advanced the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act (H.R. 2225). The next stop for the legislation is consideration by the full House of Representatives, which as of this writing has not been scheduled.

As previously reported, the NSF for the Future Act is sweeping legislation to reauthorization NSF through 2026. Most notably, the bill includes the establishment of a new research directorate, the Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions. COSSA issued a statement in support of the NSF for the Future Act on May 7, applauding the bill for its comprehensive approach to strengthening NSF, enhancing its budget, and preserving its role as the premier U.S. basic science agency.

The bill as advanced by the Committee includes several changes from the version originally introduced earlier in the spring, most notably to the levels of authorized funding. Amendments were passed increasing funding for the agency overall as well as altering the budget of the new directorate. For example, the original bill proposed that the budget of the new Science and Engineering Solutions (SES) Directorate grow to 33 percent of NSF’s total research budget by FY 2026; the revision slows the growth of the new directorate to 23 percent of total NSF research expenditures. This welcomed change would allow for additional funds to be authorized for other activities, including STEM education.

Additional provisions were added to address ongoing concerns about research security, especially with respect to China. New provisions include a prohibition on “malign federal talent recruitment programs,” development of research security training modules for federal grantees, and increased disclosure from universities around researchers’ foreign appointments, employment, and other activities.

Also of note, the House bill now includes the creation of a National Secure Data Service within NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The bill would authorize $9 million to establish a demonstration project to develop, refine, and test models to inform the creation of government-wide data linkage and access infrastructure for statistical activities, as recommended by the U.S. Commission on Evidence Based Policy Making.

Several additional provisions were added related to STEM education, fostering a more diverse research enterprise, and authorization of research in areas of particular interest to Committee members, such as agriculture, clean water, wildfires, and others.

The latest version of the NSF for the Future Act can be viewed on the Committee website here along with all of the passed amendments. COSSA will continue to report on the progress of H.R. 2225 and other NSF-related legislation (see related article).

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 22), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

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