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OSTP Outlines Research Security Priorities

In a September 16 letter to the research community, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Kelvin Droegemeier described several of the office’s priorities and planned activities for protecting the security of the U.S. research enterprise. The letter expresses concern over recent efforts by some foreign powers to “exploit, influence, and undermine our research activities and environments,” and concludes that “United States policies and practices must evolve thoughtfully and appropriately” to guard against such attacks. In particular, the letter notes that talent-recruitment programs sponsored by foreign governments have been at the center of several attempts to exploit U.S. research.

OSTP is seeking to discourage and prevent breaches of research ethics, including: “failure to disclose required information such as foreign funding, unapproved parallel foreign laboratories (so-called shadow labs), affiliations and appointments, and conflicting financial interests,” as well as “conducting undisclosed research for foreign governments or companies on United States agency time or with United States agency funding, diversion of intellectual property or other legal rights, and breaches of contract and confidentiality in or surreptitious gaming of the peer-review process.”

The Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), a committee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) established in May 2019, plans to take up these issues. In addition to the Research Security subcommittee, which will focus on foreign-power interference in U.S. research, JCORE also contains subcommittees on Safe and Inclusive Research Environments, Research Rigor and Integrity, and Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research.

JCORE’s Research Security work will focus on four areas: (1) Coordinating outreach and engagement with federal agencies and other stakeholders to increase awareness of foreign interference in research; (2) Establishing and coordinating disclosure requirements for participation in federally-funded research enterprise (such as the requirements recently circulated by NSF and NIH); (3) Developing best practices for academic research institutions; and (4) Developing methods for identification, assessment, and management of risk in the research enterprise.

OSTP plans to hold meetings at academic institutions over the coming months to further discuss this issue with stakeholders. COSSA will provide more details as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 17), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Administration Releases Updated Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Plan

On June 21, the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released a 2019 update to its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Plan. The first national AI R&D plan was released in 2016 and has been updated to include strategic priorities and accounts for new research and technologies in AI. The new strategic priorities include: making long-term investments in AI research; developing effective methods for human-AI collaboration; understanding and addressing the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI; ensuring the safety and security of AI systems; developing shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing; and expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate advances in AI; among others.

Artificial Intelligence is a priority of the Trump Administration and several federal research agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), have incorporated and highlighted AI research and development at their agencies. More about the NIH AI initiatives can be found on the NIH website and more about the NSF AI initiatives can be found on the NSF website.

More information about the Trump Administration’s effort on AI can be found on the White House website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 25), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

White House Releases STEM Education Strategic Plan

On December 4, the White House released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, a strategic plan developed with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council Committee on STEM Education. The five-year strategic plan seeks to ensure all Americans have access to quality education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Goals include building a strong foundation of STEM literacy, increasing diversity in STEM, and preparing the STEM workforce of the future. The plan lays out pathways to these goals, including developing strategic STEM partnerships, engaging students at the convergence of multiple disciplines, and advancing computational thinking. More information and quick facts about the plan are available on the White House’s website.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication Seeks Input on R&D Report

The Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication (IWGLC) is seeking public input on its recently released report, which establishes a taxonomy to classify current federal research and development activities related to language and communication. Housed within the National Science and Technology Council, the IWGLC (charter) is made up of representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Commerce, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Transportation. The request for information was submitted by the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The IWGLC report suggests classifying ongoing language and communication R&D efforts according to the following four categories: (1) knowledge and processes underlying language and communication, (2) language and communication abilities and skills; (3) using language and communication to influence behavior and share information; and (4) language and communication technologies. The comment period closes on December 30, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)


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