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Appropriators Hold Hearings on NSF Budget for FY 2022 & Potential New Research Funding

This month, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings to address the Biden Administration’s proposed budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year (FY) 2022. In addition to the budget, both hearings addressed the possibility of significant funding increases for the agency through a new technology directorate as proposed in the Endless Frontiers Act (S. 1260) (see related article). NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan was the sole witness at both hearings, voicing strong support for the Biden Administration’s proposed increases to the NSF budget.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) held its hearing overseen by Subcommittee Chair Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) on April 13. Both Shaheen and Moran spoke highly of the mission of NSF and seemed open to budget increases for the agency as proposed in the Endless Frontiers Act. However, despite agreement that more funding for research was necessary, members of both parties expressed that they wanted more details before throwing full support behind the increase. Other topics discussed during the hearing were global scientific competitiveness, particularly with China, research security, NSF’s EPSCoR program, funding levels for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and increasing diversity in the scientific workforce. The hearing recording is available on the Senate CJS  Subcommittee website.

The House Appropriations CJS Subcommittee held its hearing overseen by Subcommittee Chair Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Ranking Member Robert Aderholt (R-AL) on April 14. Like the Senate hearing, members of both parties seemed generally supportive of NSF yet wanted more specifics, with some members of the minority expressing concern of the size of the budget increase. Other issues discussed during the hearing were cybersecurity and its role in research security, investments towards diversity in the scientific workforce, encouraging STEM education and training, and NSF’s role in addressing greater societal challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change. The hearing recording is available on the House CJS Subcommittee website.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Biden Preliminary FY 2022 R&D Proposals Rely on “DARPA” Model

On April 9, the Biden Administration released preliminary, high-level details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, referred to as a “skinny budget.” At this stage, details are only available for Cabinet-level departments and a handful of other “major” agencies, with limited details about some agencies within the departments. For example, it includes preliminary details for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but not for the Census Bureau. Full budget details will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, however, Congress is proceeding with the FY 2022 appropriations process without the Administration’s full proposals. Appropriators in both chambers have already held a number of hearings on the FY 2022 budget and are continuing to schedule appearances from federal officials, including the Director of the National Science Foundation, who is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week.

Unsurprisingly, given the Biden Administration’s early priorities, the request’s most prominent new research initiatives are proposed in the areas of climate change and public health. Two of the largest R&D proposals in the budget aim to replicate the model implemented by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which aims to catalyze high-risk high-reward projects across government, academia, and industry. The request proposes a $1 billion investment in the existing Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) and in the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C) within the Department of Energy. These agencies would collectively support “high-risk, high-reward solutions for adaptation and resilience against the climate crisis and enable robust investments in clean energy technology research and development.” In its budget requests, the Trump Administration repeatedly proposed eliminating ARPA-E.

The Biden Administration proposes a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The budget proposes $6.5 billion for this new division, which is intended to “drive transformational innovation in health research and speed application and implementation of health breakthroughs” and would initially focus on diseases including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The request also proposes an additional $2.5 billion in funding for NIH’s other institutes and centers, which combined with the ARPA-H funding would be a total of $51 billion for the agency ($9 billion above its FY 2021 level).

The request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposes a total of $8.7 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion above the FY 2021 level. It includes a $100 million Community-Based Violence Intervention initiative that would, in collaboration with the Justice Department, implement evidence-based community violence interventions. The Administration also proposes doubling current funding for gun violence prevention research at the CDC and NIH, which would provide $25 million to each agency in FY 2022.

The Administration’s request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) would provide the agency with $10.2 billion, a 20 percent increase from its FY 2021 enacted level. The request would increase funding for NSF’s Research and Related Activities account, which houses most of its research directorates, including the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), by $1.6 billion, bringing it to a total of $9.4 billion. The request also repeats the proposal from the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan (see related article) to establish a new directorate for technology and innovation.

The proposal would provide a total of $100 million in funding (a roughly 50 percent increase over FY 2021) for programs aiming to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences. According to the proposal, the funding would “support curriculum design, research on successful recruitment and retention methods, development of outreach or mentorship programs, fellowships, and building science and engineering research and education capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.” In addition, the Administration proposes a $500 million increase ($1.2 billion total) for climate science and sustainability research. The proposal would fund a portfolio of research including on the “social, behavioral, and economic research on human responses to climate change.”

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Earmarks Return to House Under New Name

Last month, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced the intent of the committee to accept requests for “Community Project Funding” in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations bills. Although the announcement essentially reverses the decade-long House ban on earmarks set by the Republican majority in 2011, Chairwoman DeLauro’s plan includes new rules to govern the process. Among the reforms include posting every request online for public viewing, limiting the number of requests allowed per member to 10, and a cap on the total amount of funding to be used for projects at no more than one percent of total discretionary spending. The Senate has not yet announced whether or how it might reintroduce earmarks this year. Additional details are expected in the coming weeks as activity around the FY 2022 process ramp up.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 16), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

White House Outlines FY 2022 R&D Budget Priorities

On August 14, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum laying out the Trump Administration’s research and development budget (R&D) priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The memo cites five key White House priorities and four “high-priority crosscutting actions” for U.S. federal agencies to consider as they develop their FY 2022 budget submissions.

While the FY 2022 memo shares similar priorities to R&D memos from previous fiscal years, a notable difference is the inclusion of public health security and innovation as a priority in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The five budgetary priorities listed in the memo are:

  1. Public Health Security and Innovation
  2. Leadership in the Industries of the Future and Related Technologies
  3. Security
  4. Energy and Environmental Leadership
  5. Space Leadership

The memo also includes four “high-priority crosscutting actions” for federal agencies to better meet the budgetary priorities listed above. These four actions are:

  1. Build the S&T Workforce of the Future
  2. Optimize Research Environments and Results
  3. Facilitate Multisector Partnerships and Technology Transfer
  4. Leverage the Power of Data

Additional details can be found in the memorandum.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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