Blog Archives

OSTP Requests Information for Research Strategy to End Veteran Suicide

The While House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a request for information (RFI) for the National Research Strategy portion of the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). PREVENTS was established by executive order in March 2019 and includes a National Research Strategy to advance efforts to improve quality of life and reduce the rate of suicide among veterans.

OSTP hopes to better coordinate research within and beyond the Federal government, and enhance cross-disciplinary research into the social, behavioral, and biological determinants of wellness and brain health. The deadline for responses to the RFI is July 15, 2019. Questions to inform the National Research Strategy and additional information are available in the Federal Register Notice.

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

White House Announces New Joint Committee on U.S. Research Community

On May 6, the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) announced the formation of a new Joint Committee led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) addressing the issues and burdens facing the U.S. research community. Specific issues the Joint Committee will address are administrative burdens on federally funded research, rigor and integrity in research, inclusive and equitable research settings, and protecting American research assets. The Joint Committee will also engage with the research community for input on policy making. The Joint Committee’s membership will be comprised of OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, National Science Foundation Director France Córdova, National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Walt Copan, and Undersecretary for Science at the Department of Energy Paul Dabbar. More information about the NSTC can be found on the OSTP website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Droegemeier and Dillingham Confirmed in Final Hours of 115th Congress

In the final hours of the 115th Congress on January 2, the Senate confirmed nearly 80 presidential nominations, including Kelvin Droegemeier to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Steven Dillingham to lead the U.S. Census Bureau. Dr. Droegemeier holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric science, has served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma, as the university’s vice president for research, and as Vice Chair of the National Science Board. Dr. Dillingham holds a Ph.D. in political science and has served as the Director for the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning for the Peace Corps; the Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics; and the Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Both nominations were welcomed by the scientific and statistical communities as non-controversial choices for these two important roles.

William Beach, who was nominated to lead the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and William Bryan, who was nominated to direct Science and Technology efforts at the Department of Homeland Security were not confirmed and now must have their nominations resubmitted by the President.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 8), 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)

Kelvin Droegemeier Nominated to Lead OSTP

On August 1, President Trump nominated Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP director has traditionally, but not always, held the title of Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, otherwise known as the president’s science advisor, but it is not clear if Droegemeier would fill this role as well. Dr. Droegemeier holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric science and has served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in Norman for 33 years and as the university’s vice president for research since 2009. OU is a COSSA member university. Additionally, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to the National Science Board in 2004, was reappointed by President Obama in 2011, and served as the vice-chair of the board for four years.

Droegemeier’s nomination now awaits approval by the Senate but has come as a relief to much of the scientific community. President Trump took twice as much time as any other modern president to name an OSTP Director and his administration has routinely eschewed scientific expertise in its decision making. OSTP is responsible for providing scientific and technological analysis and judgment to the President, leading interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, and assisting the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of Federal research and development in budgets.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

OSTP Publishes Report on “Science & Technology Highlights” in the Trump Administration

Earlier this month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a 12-page report detailing the “tremendous” science and technology achievements made during the first year of the Trump Administration. According to the report, OSTP “has built a robust team of over 50 staff members,” although the size of the office is less than 40 percent of what it was under the previous Administration, and the President has yet to nominate an OSTP Director or a science advisor. The report describes accomplishments, such as the awarding of Nobel prizes to National Science Foundation-funded scientists whose research was supported during previous administrations, in the categories of Artificial Intelligence & Autonomy, Biomedical Innovation, Connectivity, Cybersecurity & Government IT Services, Digital Economy, Energy Dominance, Homeland Defense & National Security, Opioid Epidemic Response, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration, and STEM Education.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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)

White House Holds Forum on Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing; OSTP Issues Memorandum to Agencies

On September 30, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Domestic Policy Council (DPC) hosted a live-webcast forum on citizen science and crowdsourcing. The forum, Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People, recognized that a small portion of Americans are formally trained as “scientists;” however, citizen science and crowdsourcing can “educate, engage, and empower the public to apply their curiosity and talents to a wide range of real-world problems.” Participants in the forum included citizen-science professionals, researchers, and stakeholders from Federal, state, local, and Tribal governments. It also included individuals from nonprofits, academia, and the private sector.

Also on September 30, OSTP director John Holdren issued a Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies that lays out principles and steps for agencies to follow for utilizing citizen science and crowdsourcing. Check out the memorandum for full details.

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Posted in Issue 18 (October 6), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

White House Chief Data Scientist Seeks Input

patilEmbracing the use of data to improve government function and its interaction with people, the Obama Administration established the position of Chief Data Scientist (CDS) in February.  DJ Patil joined the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in February as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist.

Patil is credited with helping to coin the term “data scientist.” The former Vice President of Product at RelateIQ, Patil has also held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal, and eBay.  Prior to his stint in the private sector, he worked at the Department of Defense, where he directed efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the U.S.

As Chief Data Scientist, Patil has focused on four activities:

  1. Providing a vison on how to provide maximum social return on federal data.
  2. Creating nationwide data policies that enable shared services and forward-leaning practices to advance the U.S.’ leadership in the data age.
  3. Working with federal agencies to establish best practices for data management and ensure long-term sustainability for databases.
  4. Recruiting and retaining the best minds in data science for public service to address these data science objectives and act as conduits among government, academia, and industry.

Patil’s priority areas include precision medicine, usable data projects, and responsible science.

In August, Patil issued a follow-up memorandum discussing his team’s progress regarding these priorities and goals.  Noting that “data science is a team sport,” Patil urges community input on these initiatives.

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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)


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